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Background and Justification
The HIV prevalence in Kenya is estimated at 6% with 1.5 million people living with HIV of which approximately 98,170 are children aged 0-14 years.1 HIV acquisition amongst children mostly occurs through mother to child transmission (MTCT), but despite increased access to antiretroviral therapy by pregnant and lactating mothers, the national MTCT rate stands at 8.3% with approximately 6,600 new infections occurring in 2015 according to the national HIV estimates report 2016. Of those who required essential early infant diagnostic services, 76% of HIV-exposed infants received a PCR test with only about half of them receiving a timely PCR test before the age of 2 months in 2016. In Kenya, only eight central laboratories provide EID services across the country. This prolongs the lead time for sample transportation and turnaround time for receipt of EID results. The eight national laboratories are equally mandated to offer viral load testing services, to support the national programmes recommendation on routine viral load monitoring for those on ART. However, due to bottlenecks or gaps in the system, there are considerable delays in timely sample transportation, processing and results relay. This further contributes to delayed confirmation of HIV infection in infants, late recognition of treatment failure, and therefore postponement of comprehensive care and treatment.
The MOH through the National AIDS & STI Control Program (NASCOP) developed a new Country Framework for eMTCT for HIV and Syphilis for 2016-2021, in which innovative approaches have been recognized as game changers in strengthening diagnostics for HIV and syphilis. Also, guidelines and policies are in existence that are geared towards enabling the health sector to optimize pediatric HIV care and treatment and the eMTCT agenda.
It is against this background that UNICEF seeks to support the National HIV Reference Laboratories (NHRL) and National AIDS & STI Control Program (NASCOP) to create an enabling environment for HIV programmes for the diagnostics of infant, children, adolescents and pregnant and breastfeeding women, and linking them to appropriate MNCH/HIV related care, through accelerating access to innovative POC HIV diagnostics, linkage to appropriate care and optimization of HIV care and treatment among children, adolescents and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Scope of Work
To accelerate access to quality Paediatric HIV and PMTCT services.
References to the UNICEF Regional Work Plan (RWP) areas and UNDAF outputs
The role of the incumbent will be to contribute to outcome 5, output 5.4 of the RWP that aims to improve access and quality of pediatric HIV care and treatment, and PMTCT services.
This role additionally ensures that UNICEF’s contribution to the HIV response is met under commitments made to:
UNDAF Outcome 2.3: Multisectoral HIV and AIDS Response. By 2019, Kenya has reduced the socio-economic impact of HIV through a well-coordinated fast-tracked and adequately resourced multi-sectoral response towards an AIDS-free population.
UNJP HIV Outcome 1: By 2019, all those in need have equitable access to and utilization of quality HIV prevention at national and county level
KASF Strategic Area Directions: 1, 3 and 4 i.e. Reducing new HIV Infections; Using a Human Rights Based Approach to Facilitate Access to Services; Strengthening Integration of Community and Health Systems.
Activities and Tasks:
The incumbent will work in close collaboration with focal persons from NASCOP and the NHRL and under the supervision of the Chief HIV and AIDS, UNICEF. She/he will be based in Nairobi with 30-40% travel to 6 priority counties as identified by NASCOP and NHRL and will be responsible for the following:
Required qualifications, desired competencies, technical background and experience
UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.
Interested and qualified? Go to UNICEF career website on www.unicef.org to apply