Saturday, 21 January 2017

Kenyans in fear as Donald Trump steps into office...Find out why!

Kenya could lose more than Sh3.5 billion for malaria control if US President Donald Trump makes good his threat to cut foreign assistance. The US State Department has requested Congress for $34 million for funding malaria activities in Kenya for this year through the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). 

The bulk of the money will be used for financing 1.7 million nets and indoor insecticide spraying to cover 1.4 million people around Lake Victoria. Other areas the malaria money will cover this year include procurement of 15 million diagnostic kits and 5.5 million doses of treatments. The PMI is the single biggest funder for malaria in Kenya which on average kills about 46,000 people annually. 

The State Department indicates Kenya’s 2017 malaria funding plan has already been approved by the US Global Malaria Coordinator.

 “The final funding available to support the plan is pending final FY 2017 appropriation.”

 In his farewell speech this week (January 18) US Global Malaria Coordinator, Rear Admiral (Ret) Tim Ziemer made a passionate appeal to the new government to support the PMI like former presidents Bush and Obama did. 

“I have every reason to believe that the support for PMI will remain a priority for the new administration, the White House and the US Congress,” 

Admiral Ziemer said in a statement. The admiral was stepping down after completing his six-year presidential appointment to pave way for the new administration to pick the next PMI coordinator. 

The global health community is equally anxious over whether and with whom President Trump will replace Dr Deborah Birx, the US global Aids coordinator who also oversees the hugely funded Presidential Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR). 

In a recent media interview Dr Birx indicated her willingness to continue in her position if given a chance. Through PEPFAR, Kenya gets about Sh30 billion annually for HIV and Aids but the total aid package to Kenya was put at $2.5 billion (Sh255.25 billion) in 2015. 

However, it has been reported that Trump advisers are suggesting changes in foreign aid. Last Saturday, the Global Fund Observer, a publication of the Nairobi-based Aidspan that tracks the activities of Global Fund strongly expressed fears that the new US presidency could reduce HIV funding to Africa. 

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