Civil society is currently trying to find sustainable ways to provide medication for HIV positive Kenyans without having to rely on donor funding Currently over 90 percent of the money used to supply ART to Kenyans comes from donor funds Some of the proposals that civil society has presented to parliament for cabinet deliberation include; imposing a ‘negligible levy on every call made using a mobile phone, introducing a similar levy on individuals living in the diaspora, and removing all Kenyans with insurance cover from free medication schemes because their insurance can easily pay their medical bills “If the proposal finds favour among the law makers, then the funds raised from such levies will go a long way to scale up the number of Kenyans living with HIV/AIDS who need to be enrolled on antiretroviral therapy, and sustain treatment in case the donors pull out or reduce the funding,” said James Kamau from the non-governmental organisation, Kenya Treatment Access Movement The organisation advocates for universal access to treatment, care and support for all people living with HIV in Kenya Kamau, who is HIV positive, knows how important it is to ensure that ART is sustainable “I discovered that I was HIV positive 24 years ago And since I was lucky to access the antiretroviral therapy in good time, I am still alive and working like any other Kenyan Yet, my life can only be sustained further if I continue taking the drugs,” he said Two years ago, the Obama administration considered flat-lining its funding to the Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief PEPFAR PEPFAR, which is the largest component of the US Presidents Global Health Initiative programme, solely funds all paediatric HIV management and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programmes in Kenya It led civil society to investigate alternative ways to fund the programmes In Kenya, it is estimated that 14 million people are living with HIV, among them, 760,000 have full- blown AIDS But only 343,000 Kenyans have access to the life-saving drugs According to Dr Nicholus Muraguri, the head of the National AIDS & STI Control Programme NASCOP, 90 percent of HIV/AIDS programmes in Kenya are donor funded “It is a pity that we entirely dep on the donor community to fund such important programs,” said Muraguri However, Muraguri noted that in some cases, the donor community is politically driven, meaning that there is a possibility of it being frozen without warning “Other than this, rich countries will always prioritise their local challenges before they consider supporting donor agencies,” he said Two months ago the Japanese government, a major supporter of the Global Fund, announced that it ints to reduce its contribution to the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosisTB, in order to sp the resources on reconstructing the country in the wake of the recent tsunami and earthquake “We are totally supporting civil society in agitating for domestic funding of HIV/AIDS treatment through additional taxes because the government has not been able to support the HIV/AIDS programmes through the national budget,” said Muraguri According to Kamau, civil society is targeting mobile phone users because nearly all other sectors have already been overtaxed “What we are asking for is a 10 Kenyan cent levy for every phone call made from the country And if managed well, several lives will be saved,” he said Zimbabwe was one of the first countries in Africa to develop a comprehensive national AIDS policy by introducing an AIDS levy through an act of parliament Through the scheme, all taxable monthly incomes are taxed, and the fund goes directly to help people living with HIV to access treatment In a similar program, UNITAID an international facility for the purchase of drugs against HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB in developing countries has managed to raise about two billion dollars since 2006 through taxes on airline tickets in 15 countries, according to a statement by the organisation However, more needs to be done in order to ensure that whatever money raised will be well spent Kenya is among 10 other countries being investigated over the improper use of money meant for fighting HIV, malaria and TB donated by the Global Fund

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