Republic of Kenya

Health ministry fast tracks efforts for a generation born free of HIV by 2021.

NAIROBI – To reaffirm commitment to the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and Syphilis, the Government of Kenya will launch ambitious targets and a new framework on Tuesday June 13. The launch will take place during the 2017 Beyond Zero Leadership Summit presided over by Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, First Lady of the Republic of Kenya in Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium.

The elimination of mother to child transmission (eMTCT) of HIV and Syphilis is an important public health priority in Kenya. It reduces infant mortality and is critical in primary prevention of HIV and curbing the spread of the epidemic.

Progress has been significant in Kenya. Between 2012 and 2015, Kenya implemented the first eMTCT framework and through concerted efforts, transmission from mother to child transmission was cut by half, from 16% to 8.3%. While in 2012, 35 children were born daily with HIV, in 2015 this dropped to 18 new infections among children every day.

As Dr. Martin Sirengo, Head of the National AIDS and STI Control Program described:

“Our current success is a testimony of the hard work and determination of the Kenyan Government, the health sector and citizens. This framework signifies our commitment to end AIDS and Syphilis among women and their children.”

With this framework, the government of Kenya commits to be validated globally for pre- elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and Syphilis by 2021. It lays out the strategies and focus areas to reduce HIV and Syphilis incidence and keep children, adolescents and mothers alive and healthy. Counties are currently developing their own contextualized business plans to reach their county specific eMTCT targets.

“We are concerned about the increase of new infections among girls and young women, many whom unknowingly pass on the virus to their children during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding,” added the Director of Medical Service, Dr. Jackson Kioko.

Key strategic shifts include enhanced shared responsibility of both parents in the prevention of transmission, intensified community and county led programming, private sector participation in public health agendas and an increased focus on adolescent girls and young women due to the high rate of new infections among this age group

HIV transmission from HIV positive mothers to their babies can happen during pregnancy, at labour or through breastfeeding. However, with access to HIV treatment and proper care this risk of HIV transmission can be brought down from 15-30% to 1%. The success to stem MTCT of HIV depends on the control of sexually transmitted infections, especially Syphilis, robust maternal health programs and HIV  prevention and treatment programming.

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Ministry of Health, Afya House, Cathedral Road, P.O. Box:30016–00100, Nairobi, Kenya. Telephone: +254-20-2717077 Email: ps(at)health.go.ke