Meeting with Kenyan Civil Society Groups

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The following is a post from Center for Global Health Policy Officer Carol Bergman, who recently traveled to Kenya with a group of Capitol Hill staff from key Congressional offices with jurisdiction over global health funding or programs.

Congressional staffers meet with civil society groups in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo: Bergman/Science Speaks)

The purpose of our trip to Kenya was to better understand the impact of how US dollars are being spent on HIV/AIDS and TB.  As a result, we went on site visits to hospitals, clinics and research facilities.  We also met with officials from the governments of both the US and Kenya.  But that still doesn’t tell the whole story.

There are many civil society organizations working in Kenya on AIDS and TB.  Some are international organizations that have an office in Kenya, others are small grassroots networks and coalitions working directly with the Kenyan people.  We believed that it was important to hear their voices and get their perspective on what is going on in Kenya.  We wanted to understand how the National AIDS Strategy looks from the perspective of a civil society organization that works with people living with AIDS.  What is being done well, and what needs more attention.  Where are the gaps?

Congressional staffers pose with Kenyan civil society members. (Photo: Bergman/Science Speaks)

Thanks to the generous hospitality of the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), our delegation had an opportunity to meet with a broad range of civil society organizations working on global health in Kenya in AMREF’s International Headquarters in Nairobi.  This included representatives from the AIDS Law Project, Children of God Relief Institute, GROOTS (Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood), Health GAP Kenya (Global Access Project), KANCO (Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium), KELIN (Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network), KOCOSHEP (Kibera Community Self Help Programme), and NNEPOTEC (Network of Post Test HIV/AIDS Community Organization).

The Civil Society Roundtable was an opportunity for us to learn more about programmatic work at the community level on AIDS and TB in an informal setting.  Overall, the members of the delegation were impressed with the depth and scope of the ongoing work, and concerned about the extent of the remaining gap in services that is not being addressed.  There was discussion about the potential impact of likely funding cuts in US programs, and the challenge of moving towards programming that can be sustained in the long term within Kenya.

 

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