State-of-the-art AIDS clinic in Uganda to benefit the entire continent
Medical personnel from across Africa will soon be trained on the “latest HIV/AIDS treatment options and bring the highest standard of care to patients” at a clinic to be built at Uganda’s Makerere University and funded by the Pfizer Foundation. The Kampala clinic, which is expected to open by the end of the year, will train at least 80 doctors per year in the latest AIDS treatment techniques. One of the goals of the clinic will be to put more patients under anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment and use diagnostic technology to monitor them and determine what kind of ARV treatments would be appropriate for Africa. Health-e reports.
Medical personnel from across Africa will soon be trained on the “latest HIV/AIDS treatment options and bring the highest standard of care to patients” at a clinic to be built in Uganda and funded by the Pfizer Foundation.
The Academic Alliance for AIDS Care and Prevention in Africa announced yesterday (11 June) that the first large scale HIV/AIDS clinic in Africa to train medical personnel would be built at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
The clinic is expected to open later this year or early 2002.
Dr Nelson Sewankambo, Dean of the Makerere Medical School and a member of the Alliance said they were expecting to train at least 80 doctors per year in the latest AIDS treatment techniques.
“As they return to their posts in Uganda and other African countries they will, in turn, train many more doctors and other medical personnel,” Sewankambo said.
He said that once the facility was fully operational, they also expected to treat up to 50 000 HIV/AIDS patients “with the kind of care that is available in the developed world but not yet widely used in Africa.”
According to Dr Samuel Luboga, Associate Dean of the Makerere School, one of the goals of the clinic will be to put more patients under anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment and use diagnostic technology to monitor them and determine what kind of ARV treatments would be appropriate for Africa.
The Alliance is in negotiations with companies that manufacture ARVs so that it will have supplies on hand when the clinic opens.
“The clinic’s diagnostic laboratory is essential for modern AIDS care but is lacking in many areas of Africa,” said Professor Thomas Quinn of Johns Hopkins University, one of the first Western scientists to identify AIDS in Africa.
“Too often, African doctors have to send their tests to labs far away from their clinics, but now we’ll have the facilities on site for diagnosis of HIV, tuberculosis, opportunistic infections and sexually transmitted diseases, and levels of immune competence and HIV viral load will be readily available to the clinicians. This is a major step forward.”
An estimated 820 000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda, and there are 25 million HIV-infected people on the African continent.
A statement by Pfizer said the Alliance was a collaboration of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), Makerere University, international and local non-governmental organisations, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and participating pharmaceutical research-based companies.
Uganda has been widely praised for the great strides it has made in fighting the AIDS epidemic. The government has focused intensively on combating AIDS under the leadership of President Yoweri K. Museveni, which has led to a sustained, dramatic reduction in the number of new HIV infections.
Sewankambo said their goal was to strengthen medical infrastructure, replicate it across Africa and bring the latest medicines to bear on treating this disease “so that African doctors and nurses can offer modern AIDS care to their patients”.
Pfizer’s support of the Uganda facility comes after its announcement at the United Nations last week that it will offer Diflucan (fluconazole) anti-fungal medicine at no charge to HIV/AIDS patients in 50 of the world’s poorest countries where HIV/AIDS is prevalent.
While Diflucan is not a treatment for HIV/AIDS, it has proven highly effective in treating two opportunistic infections, cryptococcal meningitis and esophageal candidiasis (thrush).
The Diflucan Partnership expands on an existing program in South Africa which is a collaboration between Pfizer and the South African Ministry of Health.