50 Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are accusing 10 MPs of misleading the US on the use of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

In a protest letter to the National Assembly, the CBOs and CSOs claims the MPs wrote to the US House of Representatives and Senate warning against PEPFAR release in 2023 on moral grounds.

In the letter addressed to Speaker Moses Wetangula dated August 23, they say the MPs wrote to the US on June 6, 2023, claiming the fund supported abortion and other family planning and reproductive health principles that violate Kenya’s core beliefs and religion.

"On the contrary, risking the lives of 55 million Kenyans who benefit from HIV programs as well as more than 1.6 million people living with HIV in Kenya, violates Africa’s values. We cannot afford to lose over 347 million US dollars!" they lamented.

The groups working on HIV, health, and human rights in Kenya have accused the 10 MPs of engaging in a ploy to spread misinformation on the use and impact of the funds in Kenya.

“Their action may result in PEPFAR funding being discontinued in Kenya which would jeopardize the lives of over 55 million Kenyans who benefit from HIV programmes supported by PEPFAR as well as more than 1.6 million people living with HIV in Kenya,” cautioned the groups.

The 50 CSOs and CBOs millions of lives will be at risk due to lack of lifesaving HIV drugs that were previously unaffordable if the funding is not released due to the actions of the 10 MPs.

“It is apparent that without PEPFAR, Kenya will have a major funding gap for these programmes. Further, none of these funding areas violates “our core beliefs concerning life, family and religion” as alleged by our Members of Parliament in their letter dated June 6, 2023,” said the groups in their letter to Wetangula.

Among the 50 groups are Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya Legal Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN), Beyond Initiative for Social Concern, Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK), Africa Media Trust, The Health NGOs Network, and Kuza Trust.

They warn that the claims in the letter by Kenyan lawmakers to their US colleagues could risk the release of a fresh round of PEPFAR funds and hinder Kenya’s fight against HIV/AIDS.

“Mr Speaker, in the exercise of our constitutional rights, we call upon your office to urgently clarify whether the Members of Parliament of Kenya who authored the letter dated June 6, 2023, did so to communicate the position of the National Assembly on the matter to the US Counterparts,” the groups protested.

The non-governmental groups asked Parliament to verify the programmes PEPFAR finances in Kenya and the Speaker to clarify to US lawmakers Parliament's position on the said funds.

The said MPs who signed the said letter are Paul Katana, George Kaluma, Joyce Kamene, Charles Nguna, Caroline Ngelechei, Suzanne Kiamba, Beatrice Ogola, Farah Maalim, Joseph Kahangara. 

PEPFAR is a US Government initiative to tackle HIV/AIDS around the world and US has, since 2003, invested USD8 billion in Kenya with the fund now focusing on controlling the scourge.

If approved by the US Congress, PEPFAR is expected to disburse the fourth round of the funding to Kenya to the tune of $347 million (Sh50.3 billion) during the 2023 financial year.

PEPFAR finances ARV treatment, voluntary male circumcision for HIV prevention, orphan and vulnerable children care; HIV testing and counselling, HIV Comprehensive Care Clinics and healthcare workers hiring.