Health Principal Secretary (PS), Susan Mochache, has called on Kenyans to unite in addressing the ‘Triple Threat’ among the adolescents, which include new HIV infections, pregnancies, as well as Sexual and Gender-Based violence.
Speaking in Meru County, the PS said the three vices were a silent threat to the nation amongst the youth who are the future of the country.
“This is a societal issue and to succeed in fighting the three vices, we need to get out and talk about them openly,” said Ms Mochache, adding that the government alone can’t solve it but can play the role of sensitizing citizens about the same.
She added that the fight would only be won if Kenyans were responsible just like they did during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Let us act just as we did with the Corona Virus issue, where the government was issuing guidelines but the sole responsibility of following them lay with Kenyans,” she said.
She said it was unfortunate that the country was losing 5,000 young people every year due to HIV and most of the time the young people were victims of circumstances such as rape.
“Time has come to say that things are not going in the right direction because our youth who form 75 percent of our population are under threat,” said Ms Mochache.
She noted that Meru County has tried in reducing infections of the disease from 1,500 in 2016 to an average of 635 people per year but the number of people under Antiretroviral drugs was still high.
She added that the government was previously taking care of 15,000 HIV patients but this has increased to 20,700 people.
“This means that even if we have made a step forward, we still have a problem because taking care of such people costs the government a lot of money,” she said.
She noted that Kenya at the moment was using Sh25.4 billion every year to cater for the drugs as well as testing, money that could have done some other development work.
“If we don’t try to reduce the cost of health in the country, then we will not be able to carry out other development programmes,” said Ms Mochache.
She noted that 14 young people are infected on a daily basis insisting on the need to have a discourse about the issue to avoid having the epidemic throughout our lifetime.
Meru County is currently in teenage pregnancy of 38 percent whereas between January to May this year, 15,000 young people were victims of early pregnancy.
National Aids Control Council (NACC) Director, Ms Ruth Laibon, observed that the County’s statistics were not pleasing but added, the issues can be resolved if there was unity.
“With unity we will ensure the infected children are taken to hospital, end early pregnancies and ensure there are no new HIV infections amongst our youth,” said Ms Laibon.
She called on the residents to stop hiding the problems facing them including covering up those misleading young children.
The County Governor, Kiraitu Murungi, said there was need to be serious and invest more resources in the fight as well as intensive training, especially focusing on the youth.
He thanked area Chiefs, especially from Igembe and Tigania regions for being in the forefront in ensuring perpetrators were arrested, especially in the issue of early pregnancies.
He said the collaboration between the Chiefs and the Njuri Ncheke and the Community Health Volunteers (CHV), as well as members of the public was bearing fruits.
“I am embarrassed as the Governor of Meru when I hear that we are leading in cases of teenage pregnancies. Please remove that shame from me,” pleaded Mr Kiraitu.
He called on Chiefs to be strict and not to allow traditional justice system to be applied in serious cases such as rape.
He also promised to settle the CHVs arrears as well as securing health covers to facilitate smooth operations against the vices.
By Dickson Mwiti