An NGO will mark the International Women’s Day Thursday through provision of free health services in three counties.
The Aids Healthcare Foundation, the largest global Aids organisation operating in 39 countries, will give health services including HIV/Aids testing and then hold processions and entertainment in Kwale, Nairobi and Nakuru counties.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is formally observed each year on March 8 as a combined global holiday and campaign that promotes and commemorates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
IWD also brings governments, organisations and businesses together to spark change for gender equality through action advocacy.
Almost 18 million women over the age of 15 make up over half of all adults living with HIV, according to the World Health Organisation, and women aged 15-24 account for 60 percent of those infected in that age group.
Additionally, HIV-positive women in many countries are not afforded equal access to treatment and are often victims of discrimination and increased violence including infringement on their sexual and reproductive rights.
In a statement, AHF called on “decision makers, organisations and people everywhere to do their part to help narrow this gap and ensure that women have unimpeded access to lifesaving HIV testing, prevention services and treatment.”
“The global theme for the day is Press for Progress which looks at bridging the gender parity in the world, AHF has adapted Keep the Promise on Women which is a clear way of pressing for progress in provision of quality HIV care for all,” it said.
“As we celebrate women this year, it is important to recognise the important role that peer mentors including mentor mothers have played in HIV treatment and prevention especially in PMTCT. AHF Kenya will continue to keep the promise to women in working at the reduction of new HIV infections among women and girls,”AHF Kenya Country Director Samuel Kinyanjui said.
AHF Chief of Global Policy, Advocacy and Marketing Terri Ford said the world cannot go on talking about the end of AIDS while HIV remains one of the leading causes of death especially among young women and girls in developing countries.
KEEP THE PROMISE
“From the smallest community clinic, all the way to the national health programmes and at the international level, we must keep the promise to women by ensuring that they are empowered and able to access reproductive and health services, including HIV treatment, testing and prevention without long waiting times and without fear of intimidation and stigma,” the official said.
“We will not rest until this happens. On this International Women’s Day, we want the world to hear loud and clear – women must be at the forefront of the global Aids response if we want to overcome this deadly epidemic, and to do that we must invest our efforts and resources in what’s been proven to work – test and treat, and a comprehensive prevention strategy. On March 8, let’s pledge to keep fighting for women,” Dr Kinyanjui added.
AHF started its operations in Kenya in 2007 and has 44,000 clients.
The organisation distributed 4,800,000 condoms as well as provided HIV testing services to 526,618 people in 2017.
In Mombasa County the organisation conducted 108,026 HIV tests and distributed 1,377,544 condoms.