Christian and Muslim Leaders in Kenya Urge Pharmaceutical Companies to Manufacture More Child-Friendly HIV Medicines

Clergy including the Rev. Timothy Surum, from left, of Kenya Assemblies of God; Sheikh Abdalla Kamwana, the chairman of INERELA + Kenya; Pentecostal Bishop John Warari Wakabu; and Sheikh Ali Juma lead a procession on Universal Children’s Day in Nairobi, Kenya, on Nov. 20, 2018. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili

As they committed to open churches and mosques to children with HIV and tuberculosis, Christian and Muslim leaders in Kenya urged global pharmaceutical companies on Tuesday (Nov. 20) to manufacture more medicines that are friendly to children.

The call came on Universal Children’s Day, established by the United Nations in 1954 to promote international awareness of children’s issues worldwide and improve their welfare.

Faith leaders, government officials and activists gathered with groups of children from across Kenya to focus on pediatric HIV and TB treatment, diagnosis and general support for children.

“The medicines for children are needed I would say very urgently, but we are happy to see some companies starting to manufacture the medicines. This is encouraging. We urge the companies which have not started to do so,” Pentecostal Bishop John Warari Wakabu, the national chairman of Kenya Christian Forum, told Religion News Service during a procession in Nairobi.

Sheikh Ali Juma, a Muslim leader from southwest Kenya, reinforced the view, saying the companies should help the children realize their rights of access to safe and affordable medicines.

“There are some tablets already, but some are difficult to take. Syrup formulation would go a long way,” said Juma.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, 2.1 million children were living with HIV at the end of 2017, born to HIV-positive mothers or infected during childbirth or breastfeeding. In 2017, the World Health Organization estimated a million children became ill with TB and 230,000 children died of the disease, including those with HIV-associated TB.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service, Fredrick Nzwili