Civil rights Lawyers from Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network (KELIN), (left to right) Angela Gichinga, Allan Maleche (center) and Ted Wandera peruse through a copy of the response by director of National AIDS control council Dr. Nduku Kilonzo, to an application the civil rights group had filed on 15th June seeking to stop the government from collecting data on people living with HIV at Milimani law courts on Friday 14 August.2015.
BY SAM ALFAN.
The National Aids and Control Council director has defended the directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta on collection of data on all school going children living with HIV and AIDS as constitutional.
Dr Nduku Kilonzo, says that order by the head of state is not breach of their constitutional rights has claimed by Kenya Legal and Ethical issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN) and Children of God Relief Institute
In her response to the petition filed by the KELIN, the director says that data will help the government to mobilize resources to address the challenges posed by HIV Aids in the country.
The directives were issued by the head of state on 17 February 2015 requiring county commissioners to collect data on school going children living with HIV.
The government will not be able to fight the scourge without having the statistics of people living with deadly disease.
The global launch of the ”All-in” campaign served to provide the political will necessary to engage multiple stakeholders including development partners to make commitment towards results for children, adolescent and young person’s by 2020.
Dr Kilonzo says that NACC has set up multi- stakeholder committee to develop a campaign to end the stigma and discrimination amongst children and adolescent.
She points out that the council did form committee in November 2014 to develop an operational plan to accelerate and fast track action across different sectors that have bearing on children and adolescents.
The views held by the NGOs do not represent the county’s largest network of the people living with HIV and collection of the data has not breached any law, she says.
The HIV and Aids was declared a national disaster in 1999 by retired President Daniel Arap Moi, an estimated 1.6 million people are living with HIV and 16 per cent of the m are adolescent
The disease is leading cause of adolescent deaths in Africa where approximately 9,720 Kenya adolescents and young persons of below the age of 24 died of AIDS related deaths in 2013
The director says that the country recorded approximately 88,000. New HIV infection amongst the adults of above 15 years and that 30 per cent of these were below 24 years of age
The petitioners want court to compel CS Health, CS Education and the Attorney General to destroy all data in their possession collected as a result of the directive issued on February 23, linking the names of persons living with HIV and their HIV status within a period of 14 days.
In the alternative, the petitioners wants the court to issue an order compelling the CS Health and AG within 14 days to codify the names collected as a result of the directive be stored in a manner that does not link their names and their HIV status in a public document.
They say nine years after the enactment of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act, CS Health has failed and refused to cause to be published privacy guidelines in form of regulations relating to the collection and storage of HIV related data.
“Unless the directive is recalled and new guidance is given by the President, the respondents will still pursue the process and will be setting an unconstitutional precedent,” they say.
The petitioners say on 26 March the International Community of Women Living with HIV and the Global Network of People living with HIV wrote a letter to the President concerning the directive issued by him on February 23.
They say having not received a response from the Head of State, KELIN together with the Executive Director of Nephak wrote a follow up letter informing the president on alternative options on how to collect the date needed without violating the right to privacy of persons living with HIV and emphasized the need to have the directive issued had to be withdrawn.