Nairobi, Kenya, April 20,2023: LVCT Health celebrated 20 years of rich history, journey and progress towards delivering health outcomes in Kenya and beyond.
The 20th anniversary celebration was the first since its inception following the establishment of the first three Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) sites in Kenya.
In an evening filled with pomp and colour, the event provided an opportunity to not only celebrate the over two decades of LVCT Health’s significant contribution to Kenya’s HIV response, but also to showcase its achievements in research and policy, sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence work to development partners,policy makers, friends and supporters who graced the event.
Presiding over the event, H. E Hon.Gladys Wanga, the Governor, of Homa Bay County and a former staff at LVCT Health, hailed the organisation for been on the frontline of transforming the country’s HIV/AIDS response and the lives of many people in need of life-saving HIV treatment through its interventions.
She congratulated everyone for achieving this milestone and thanked the donors, development partners and private sector who have supported organisations like LVCT Health address the ever-growing health challenges in Kenya.
‘‘The health response should not be left to donors and partners only. We need everyone on the decision-making table if we are to win the war against the HIV pandemic that has lived with us from the time it was declared a national public health threat. Unfortunately, the current trend has led to the closing of many groups trying to address the health challenges in our society due to the reduced donor funding,” said Gladys.
She called donors and development partners to continue investing in the country, especially in the government at national and County levels and local organisations, for improved health outcomes even as the government continues putting more resources into health.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Nduku Kilonzo, former Executive Director applauded LVCT Health for its achievements and resilience.
“LVCT Health taught me courage and to take risks, part of this was the Hatua Model-a research, policy and practice framework that the organisation uses to generate evidence for advocacy and technical support for national policy reforms, programs development and service delivery in Kenya and beyond. I want the world to know that LVCT Health grows people. If we stop growing, we seize to exist. I will always be a part of LVCT Health,” said Dr Nduku.
Other dignitaries present congratulated LVCT Health for its achievements and promised to continue supporting the organisation to reach more people and address the health systems for sustainability.
“LVCT Health has done so well for so long, in line with what USAID wants to achieve for sustainability. The model of LVCT Health is what we need to follow,” said Bert Uhamadu, Deputy Head of Mission,USAID.
Jennifer Galbraith, Regional Director for East Africa U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lauded LVCT Health as a partnership model that other local led organisations should emulate based on the projects and the diverse populations they serve.
“LVCT Health took centre stage at the technical working group when we established the first testing guidelines. I am now the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Health Kilifi County and was glad to find LVCT Health implementing USAID Stawisha Pwani in the coastal region. On behalf of my colleagues in the 33 counties. We say thank you. We commit to work together and offer services to the people,” stated Hon. Peter Mwarogo, CECM, Health, Kilifi County.
Speakers including beneficiaries who attended the event, shared their life experience and impact through their engagements with LVCT Health.
“By joining the DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe) Initiative, I realised my potential. LVCT DREAMS initiative attached me to a mentor who encouraged me to continue my studies. As a result, I excelled and joined the University of Nairobi,” said Linet Atieno, a DREAMS beneficiary.
Over the two decades, LVCT Health has significantly contributed to Kenya’s HIV response by working with the Ministry of Health at national and County levels.
LVCT Health Executive Director, Dr Lilian Otiso, said the organisation had reached over 10 million Kenyans with HIV testing services in the last two decades.
“Some 206,543 have been offered life-saving HIV drugs (Antiretroviral therapy (ART), supported some 200,000 survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV), and provided support relating to HIV, sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence and mental health services through the one2one digital platform to over 4 million youth,” said Dr Otiso
The LVCT Health Beyond 20 years strategy will continue to work with all actors in a joint effort to end HIV/AIDs whilst focusing on expanding access to mental health services among vulnerable groups including youths, sex workers, and survivors of sexual violence, persons living with disabilities, young girls and women.
“Our new strategic choices will focus on Health Services Delivery Support, Health Systems Strengthening, Monitoring and Evaluation, Research and Learning, and Institutional well-being,” said Dr Otiso.
Speaking on behalf of the LVCT Health Board of Directors, Eng. Patrick Obath, a former Board Chair, LVCT Health, praised the former and present staff for their dedication to the LVCT Health course. He said the organisation had grown through the years and would look into sustainability moving forward.
“I congratulate the LVCT Health staff for their energy, commitment and hard work that has made LVCT Health what it is today. Your resilience, innovation and creativity is what makes LVCT Health unique in the country and the region,” stated Patrick Obath.