People living with HIV/AIDs in Kenya can now breathe easy after the government and the US authorities resolved a stalemate on antiretroviral drugs stuck at the Mombasa port.
The drugs that arrived in the country in January this year were detained at the port after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) failed to agree on who should pay the taxes – or whether there should be any tax claim in the first place.
This created a shortage of the drugs in the country leading to protests from affected Kenyans and lobby groups forcing the Ministry of Health to intervene.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, National Aids Control Council (NACC) CEO Ruth Masha revealed that the drugs are now ready for distribution following intervention by Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache.
The PS had in May appointed a committee to work on modalities of resolving the stalemate.
The committee drew representatives from the Ministry of Health, NACC, National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NASCOP), Malaria Programme, Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), Pharmacy and Poisons Board and the Council of Governors.
According to Masha, the Committee, convened by the NACC, held a series of meetings with US representatives where all outstanding issues were resolved.
“The resolutions include the signing of a framework and implementation letter to facilitate tax and fee waivers and distribution of the USAID-purchased commodities,” said Masha.
“These commodities are now cleared and ready for distribution.”
Records indicate that out of the estimated 1.5 million People Living with HIV in Kenya, 1.2 million are currently on long-term life-saving ARV drugs.
Eligible persons living with HIV have been receiving less than the 3-months supply of medications from the previous six months dispensing.