New HIV testing technology to benefit new born babies, says First Lady Margaret Kenyatta
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta was on Wednesday joined by her Mozambican counterpart Isaura Nyusi to commission the Point of Care Early Infant Diagnosis (POCEID) technology at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) in Kisumu.
After commissioning the new facility, the First Lady launched the National Point of Care Technologies Roadmap under which millions of new born babies from across the country will be able to access the new POCEID HIV testing technology.
The First Lady said the new device will impact millions of babies across the country and thanked the Ministry of Health and the National Aids and STI control Programme (NASCOP) for adopting the new technology in HIV testing.
The new technology provides immediate results that allows the babies exposed to the HIV virus to commence life-saving antiretroviral therapy.
POCEID technology replaces the old Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) HIV testing used to detect antigens in the blood. Results under the PCR testing method come out after 4 to 10 days.
According to JOOTRH Chief Executive Officer Dr. Peter Okoth, the PCR occasionally falsifies results for new-born babies after picking the antigens of the mother.
HIV testing for new born-babies under the PCR method are done at KEMRI laboratories at Kisian, 15 kilometres away from JOOTRH.
At the Hospital, the First Lady and her Mozambican guest were received and guided through the facility by Kisumu Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Peter Okoth, County Executive Committee Member (CEC) for Health Dr. Rosemary Obara, County Secretary Dr. Olango Onudi and Director of Health Dr. Dickens Onyango.
Among the patients the two First Ladies visited were some 60 women who are recuperating from surgery related to obstetric fistulae.
“I visited over 60 women who have suffered from obstetric fistulae. Today they have been given hope, they will no longer suffer from stigma and shame. They are mothers, wives and sisters and I ask that we embrace and reintegrate these women so that they too can contribute to the development of their communities,” said First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
The two First Ladies were in Kisumu to launch Beyond Zero’s second Medical Safari, the new model for healthcare delivery in which medical service providers come together to offer specialized services to the public at designated locations.
The three-day Medical Safari camp is being held at the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Grounds, where First Lady Margaret Kenyatta unveiled both the National POCEID roadmap and the Kisumu County Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (eMTCT) and Syphilis Framework 2018-2022.
The First Lady said the eMTCT framework will guide in fast tracking the collective action to address the challenges of HIV and Aids in the county, whose prevalence stands at 8.7 per cent.
“We are confident that if we work hard and work together, Kenya will achieve its health targets,” she said.
The First Lady said the idea of the Beyond Zero Medical Safaris was conceived to bring health care services closer to women and their families in response to the many critical health challenges that affect them.
“We still have many health challenges. Many families are still not able to afford health care,” said the First Lady adding that she will continue working hard for women and children.
“As a woman and a mother, I will continue to work hard to protect the welfare of women and children. Women are the centre of families and the children of this country are our future,” she added.
The two First Ladies took time to interact with hundreds of residents of Kisumu and neighbouring counties including those seeking treatment and medical interventions over various health issues like obstetric fistulae, screening for breast, cervical and prostate cancer, ante-natal services, cardiac, chest and eye problems.
Hundreds others took advantage of the Medical Safaris camp to register for the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the Linda Mama program which guarantees safe delivery and immunization of babies, free of charge, and registration of children with disability.
The First Lady said she was encouraged by the high number of people who turned up at the medical camp.
“I am deeply touched to see that Kisumu residents and those from neighbouring counties have chosen to take their health seriously by participating in this medical camp,” the Kenyan First Lady said.
She thanked the many partners working with Beyond Zero including the County and the National governments, and the private sector to provide integrated health services.
“Our ongoing effort is geared towards contributing towards Universal Health Care,” said the First Lady.
Kisumu becomes the second County to benefit from the BZ Medical Safaris after Narok County on September 12 where hundreds of people were diagnosed and treated for various ailments. The First Lady plans to take the Medical Safaris to all the 47 counties.
The Mozambican First Lady who is in the country accompanying her husband Filipe Nyusi on a State Visit to Kenya also addressed the function saying Kenya and her country share similar challenges in terms of health.
She said she had learnt important lessons on the delivery of healthcare to the people.