NAIROBI, Kenya – Former President Bill Clinton (search) pledged Friday to help Kenya expand HIV/AIDS care and treatment, particularly for children and people in rural areas who traditionally receive the fewest services in poor countries.
Clinton said his foundation had received grants worth $1.5 million to help train medical workers for rural areas in this East African nation.
The money came from singer Elton John (search) and the Children Investment Fund Foundation, a London-based charity that funds projects to improve the lives of children in poor nations, Clinton said.
Some 1.2 million Kenyans are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. About 200,000 of these need treatment with life-prolonging drugs, but only 44,000 have access to the medication.
"I hope in the next couple of years we will be putting 150,000 people on treatment," Clinton said during a joint news conference with Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki (search).
Based on current estimates, it costs about $20 a person each year to do the tests needed to monitor the effectiveness of the life-prolonging drugs in Kenya. It costs an additional $140 a person a year for the medicine, Clinton said.
It also costs about $200 a child per year to provide medicine, he said.
"So, we really do have a chance here to get medicine to all the children who need it, all the people in rural areas who need it — and in the aggregate, the entire population who need it," Clinton said.
"I think we have a chance to get there, and I will work like crazy to get it done — that's all I can tell you. And it will be a lot of money," he said.
Clinton is on a six-nation tour of Africa to focus attention on the AIDS crisis in the continent.
Since 2002, the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative has been assisting countries in care, treatment and prevention programs. It has partnerships with more than a dozen countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia.