The government is on the spot after it merged that Antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs meant for Kenyans were last year shipped to a country in West Africa after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) demanded tax.
The drugs donated by the United States government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), landed in the port of Mombasa in October last year.
The drugs with a budget of USD35 million (Ksh3.5 billion) were to benefit at least 900, 000 Kenyans living with HIV/AIDS.
The US government partnered with the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), a state corporation under the Ministry of Health, to receive the drugs after being procured by USAID.
Kahawa Tungu has learnt that on arrival, KRA imposed taxes on the drugs.
The US embassy, however, refused to pay the taxes, on grounds that it was a donation. This meant that KEMSA couldn’t be cleared to get the drugs.
Meanwhile, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is said to have refused to offload the cargo forcing the shipping company to turn back to the US for further instructions.
Reports indicate that the US government decided to donate the drugs to another country in West Africa.
The decision meant that hundreds of thousands of Kenyans who were meant to benefit from the free drugs will not.
Kenya has the joint third-largest HIV epidemic in the world (alongside Tanzania) with 1.6 million people living with HIV in 2018. Out of the population 1.2 million are said to be on ARVs.
As of 2018, 69 percent of adults living with HIV in Kenya were accessing treatment. However treatment coverage among children aged under 15 was lower, at 61 percent.