Mombasa sex workers take to the streets over ARV shortage

Mombasa sex workers take to the streets over ARV shortage

Commercial sex workers and HIV-positive people in Mombasa have demanded that the government address the country’s anti-retroviral drug (ARV) shortage.

Taking to the streets in protest, they claimed that the shortage has made thousands vulnerable to infection, while leaving others sick and at risk of death.

According to commercial sex workers, business has increased as a result of the recent lockdown, but more people are at risk of becoming infected if the ARV issue is not resolved.

“How many commercial sex workers are HIV positive, if the workers had suppressed the virus with the drugs what will happen? Won’t they infect other people’s husbands?”Marylynne Laini, the director of Nkoko Iju Africa- a sex workers organization- posed

The protests come just a day after Health Cabinet Secretary Mtutahi Kagwe told the Senate Health Committee that a diplomatic squabble that had caused the drug shortage had been resolved.

According to CS Kagwe, the USAID had released the drug consignment that had been stuck at the port; patients are expected to receive them during the week.

CS Kagwe stated that the USAID had proposed using a company called Chemonics International to procure and supply ARVs to Kenyans due to “trust issues” with the national medical supplies body, KEMSA.

He claims, however, that they have reached an agreement with USAID that will include, among other things, the strengthening of systems at KEMSA.

The Health Ministry’s boss stated that the government would not allow USAID to use Chemonics to supply ARvs because the government did not have enough information on the company.

He also emphasized the importance of the country budgeting for its own ARVs rather than relying on donors.

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Story By George Aoko
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