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Shortage of HIV/AIDs testing kits raises alarm

21 March 2013, 14:26 Cheruo Levi Cheptora

Major hospitals in Bungoma County have been operating for the last two months without HIV/AIDs testing kits, a situation that is worrying stakeholders in the health sector fear might fuel the spread of the scourge.

A spot check by the media in hospitals within the region including Bungoma and Kimilili District Hospitals established that the testing kits have not been supplied to the health institutions for the last two months. 

Other hospitals such as Naitiri and Chwele Sub-District hospitals are also facing the same problem.

Wamukota Sawenja,  Secretary of Mkenda Kola, a community based organisation (CBO) in Kimilili that is involved in the fight against HIV/AIDs amongst other activities, expressed concern that the crisis will water down efforts the group and other stakeholders have put in the fight against the disease.

"We carry out sensitization programmes and trainings; we get a lot of people who want to know their status only for them to be turned away at the testing centres because of the shortage of kits," he said.

Wamukota adding that the scenario is likely to undo all the gains and progress achieved so far.
Kenneth Kamlamba, the chairman of Manaco CBO in Kamukuywa expressed similar sentiments.

"Our group does HIV/AIDs awareness and door to door counselling. Those we have referred to health facilities in the last two months have been unable to know their status. We call upon the government to supply the kits," said Kamlamba.
Various District Aids Sexually Transmitted Infection Control Programme ( DASCOP) coordinators’ in the county who spoke to the media on condition of anonymity confirmed that the government has failed to supply the kits after the stock the hospitals had got depleted.

“The government should move with speed to ensure that the kits are availed as soon as possible. Kenyans who want to know their status are being turned away because of the supply hitch,” said one DASCOP coordinator in Bungoma County, adding that the shortage illustrates lack of sound policies by the authorities concerned in the health sector.

However, the two major hospitals in Mt Elgon Constituency, Kapsokwony and Cheptais District Hospitals, have the kits.

The administrators of the health facilities disclosed that they get their supplies from AMPATH, a Non-Governmental Organization.

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