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Kenyan AIDS Activists Protest Over Unspent PEPFAR Funds

“More than 400 Kenyan AIDS activists have demonstrated in the capital, Nairobi, demanding that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief release some $500 million for HIV programs in Kenya that is stuck in the pipeline,” PlusNews reports. “The U.S. government recently revealed that close to $1.5 billion has been in the global PEPFAR pipeline for more than 18 months,” the news service notes, adding that the allocation to Kenya is the largest. According to the news service, “The protestors presented a memorandum listing their demands to U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration, head of PEPFAR-Kenya Katherine Perry, Kenya’s Director of Public Health Shahnaz Sharif, and other senior Ministry of Health officials.”

“‘We are protesting the U.S. government’s withholding of crucial funding for HIV programs in the country. Last year, [special programs minister] Esther Murugi pledged that the government would put one million Kenyans on HIV treatment by 2015 — without this funding, that goal cannot be achieved,’ said Rose Kaberia, director of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) in Eastern Africa,” the news service writes. “U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby noted in an interview with … GlobalPost that one of the reasons for such a large amount of unspent money for Kenya was the country’s two health ministries — one for medical services and the other for public health — which ‘definitely slowed things down,'” PlusNews notes. Goosby also said in the interview, “We had built in, as a policy, a 12-to-18-month period, which means you can keep a 12-to-18-month pipeline. I feel comfortable with that, it’s responsible. Any more than that, it’s not; any less than that, I’m worried that you are vulnerable,” according to the news service (4/25).