No Treatment Or Care For 75,000 Children Living With HIV

Githogoro Village, Nairobi, September 6th 2011 –  As one drives through the high-class Runda estate, the environment is serene with well trimmed fences; trees giving fresh air, the ambience is different. The architectural designs are creatively and particularly done, with the driveways and pathways well tarmacked. Actually the houses reminded me of the Beverly Hills’ posh estate in America.

In the midst of the beautiful scenery there is a humble and simply designed clinic, the Gertrude’s’ Githogoro clinic which neighbours the Githogoro village.

The village is an informal settlement that is located between Muthaiga and Runda estate. The inhabitants of these three

Writer - Edna Kivuva

places have a different social background; those of Runda and Muthaiga are filthy rich while the Githogoro are stinking poor.

The clinic which is a few kilometers away from the headquarters of Gertrude children hospital at Muthaiga is a beneficiary from the Human Immuno deficiency virus (HIV) pediatrics programme. Gertude hospital has partnered with the Ministry of Health, path finder, Nascop among other organizations to enhance access to care, prevention and treatment to the society.

Dr.Frasia Karua confirms that in 2009, a total of 25,000 children were newly infected with HIV, the total number of children infected in the country is 115,000 and only 40,000 were on treatment currently. This leaves 75,000 children living with HIV with no treatment or care which is a very calamitous situation.

Dr. Karua establishes that the plight of HIV pediatric is real; a huge number of children are not getting treatment. She also notes that there are limited pediatric doctors in Kenya which makes it very difficult for the children medical needs to be catered for.

“We only have two trained pediatric counselors in the country, if you compare the number of HIV positive children, with the two counselors, then the situation is overwhelming for the staff. We need to create demand in the community so that the pregnant mothers are sensitized to be tested for HIV and demand for care, she validates”.

Dr. Karua states that the hospital wavers bills for those who cannot afford the treatment for both inpatient and outpatient services. She also admits that the HIV clinics offer quality treatment because Gertrude has the best trained medical practitioners in children health.

Amina * who dwells at Githogoro, is among the people who have benefitted from the Gertrudes project. She is a mother of two and living with the HIV virus, she says at the beginning of this year her baby of one and half years was seriously sick so she brought her to the Githogoro clinic.

Dr.Frasia Karua confirms that in 2009, a total of 25,000 children were newly infected with HIV, the total number of children infected in the country is 115,000 and only 40,000 were on treatment currently.

“My baby was seriously sick so I was referred to Gertrudes Muthaiga hospital where my baby was admitted for one day. I was very shocked because I knew my husband could not afford to pay the treatment leave alone the admission bill, with all the classy treatment I didn’t pay a single cent the hospital paid everything, she asserts.”

Amina has been put on the antiretroviral drugs (ARV) since she was pregnant with her second baby, whom she delivered safely and is three months old now. She comes to the clinic for reproductive health, family planning as well as for nutritional counseling and food.

Gertrudes injects a sum of 1.5 million every month to the HIV clinics to cater for laboratory services, ARVs, and the staff. Dr Karua says that the clinics receive up to 600 patients in a month, thus the hospital caters for the payment of the staff in order to sustain the HIV programme and not depend fully on donors.

On the other hand Mr. Makhoha*, a 50 years old father of ten took an HIV test in 2009 and was confirmed HIV positive. He has then been receiving his ARVs, food and financial assistance from Githogoro clinic. His wife turned out HIV negative and they were both counseled on how to live together safely.

“I work at construction sites, taking mostly manual labor like building or mixing mortar, which at times is very hard to come by. I have ten children, my first born is in college and my last born is one year old. Gertrude’s gives me ARVs, food, and money for upkeep, at times I get 5, 3 or 1 thousand shillings depending on how much money they have for people living with HIV, he articulates.”

He says that he also benefits in the reproductive health programme in the clinic because he takes enough condoms, so as to ensure he protects his wife from contracting the disease. The clinic is like the story of the Good Samaritan in the bible for the occupants of Githogoro.

By Edna Kivuva

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