Kenya – DREAM programme, a dream that’s becoming a reality in the fight against HIV

Nairobi - On 31 January 2017 the Community of Sant'Egidio and the Italian Co-operation organised a conference on "Achieving 90 - 90 - 90 Kenya".  The event provided an opportunity to share experiences and lessons learned in the treatment and diagnosis of HIV through the wide experience of the DREAM Programme (Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition) in ten African countries.  Speakers included the Italian Ambassador Mauro Massoni, the Irish Ambassador Vincent O'Neill and director of AICS Nairobi head office Teresa Savanella, as well as representatives of the partners of the "Improving Retention in HIV / AIDS Programmes in Kenya" project, local authorities and civil society.

Its course has so far run from difficult beginnings in Mozambique in 2002, back when therapies for HIV were limited to the most advanced countries and it seemed a utopian idea to bring them to the African continent, to 2005 when the programme expanded into Kenya, where it focused on city of Nairobi and the counties of Meru, Tharaka-Nithi and Embu.  Its activities consist in the management of highly specialised centres for diagnosis, aided by awareness campaigns for early diagnosis and for monitoring infection in the HIV-positive population.  Specific activities are carried out for particularly vulnerable categories and age groups of beneficiaries: women, pregnant women, children and adolescents.  Today the programme has more than 7 thousand patients in the various centres in the country, and offers the best chance of treatment through the innovative equipment with which the laboratories are equipped.   A major role is played by the professionals, who are all local, working in the centres and guaranteeing the highest precision in therapy.

Kenya has joined the global strategy aimed at ensuring, by the year 2020, that 90% of HIV-positive people are aware of their status, 90% among HIV-positive people are undergoing anti-retroviral therapy and, among them, that 90% see satisfactory virological suppression. To achieve these objectives it is necessary to concentrate efforts on awareness-raising campaigns for the tests, in increasing the availability of anti-retroviral drugs and facilitating adherence to treatment throughout the lives of HIV-positive people.  In this sense, the data collected in the DREAM centres - both in Kenya and in other African countries where they operate - are very encouraging.  The key to success lies - as has been highlighted during the conference by all the speakers - in DREAM's ability to mobilise networks and partnerships, channelling human and financial resources, knowledge and skills towards a dream that over the years is turning into reality.

 

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