Kenya's health ministry said Sunday that it will spend millions of dollars next year on antiretroviral (ARV) therapy for a surge of new HIV/AIDS patients in the country.
Some 190,000 patients are currently on ARV treatment, with a monthly increase of 5,000 new patients, according to the ministry. Next year, the government plans to spend some 3.8 billion shillings (61.4 million dollars, 39 million euros) on the AIDS-fighting medications for patients whose numbers are expected to increase by 60,000, it said.
Advertisement"The cost of treating 190,000 patients for one year is 3.42 billion shillings and this is anticipated to rise to 3.8 billion shillings next year to cater for 250,000 clients," it said in a statement published Sunday.
The funds will be provided by the government, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and foreign charities and foundations.
The ministry said it ensure there is a buffer stock of antiretrovirals for up to nine months.
Kenya's official AIDS prevalence rate is 5.1 percent, down from 5.9 percent in 2005, thanks to free antiretroviral therapy for adults and to the distribution of new drugs to prevent child-mother transmission.
First identified in the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS has particularly ravaged sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for a staggering 72 percent of global AIDS deaths and two-thirds of all people infected with HIV.
The disease was first diagnosed in 1984 in Kenya, where it has killed at least 1.5 million people, overturned decades of healthcare gains and now threatens to undermine development efforts if it is not reversed.
As of June last year, around one million Africans were receiving antiretrovirals. The figure was still less than a quarter of the estimated 4.6 million people in need of the drugs on the continent.
To provide the medications, African leaders have been forced to divert money, stripping other sectors of funds, even as they have tried -- often unsuccessfully -- to enforce laws to counter traditional, risky practices like wife inheritance.