Uganda to open ARV factory
The launch of an ARV drug factory in Uganda and Malawi’s attempts to double the number of people on ARVs by 2010 are some of the highlights in this issue of the Centers for Disease Control HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
UGANDA: Uganda launches HIV/AIDS drug factory
India-based Cipla is partnering with Uganda-based Quality Chemicals to open a factory producing generic AIDS and malaria drugs in Uganda.
“Actually it is long overdue,” said Dr. Sam Okware, spokesperson for Uganda’s health ministry. “I expect the quality of life of people living with HIV to improve; I expect now the government to be able to buy more drugs than before because now the drugs are available locally, so the cost of transport will not be there. I also expect many of the people living with HIV/AIDS now to access this drug directly, not through the health care system [but] through the private system.”
The new factory is expected to begin turning out drugs within the next few months. Its presence in Uganda is part of a larger movement advocating for Africa-produced generic versions of expensive patented drugs. The average Ugandan makes just U$2 (R14) a day – not nearly enough to buy antiretrovirals at full price.
Okware expressed his hope that the factory will be able to keep pace as new drugs are developed. “The whole science of HIV/AIDS, especially drugs, is always evolving, so we need to hope that they will be able to incorporate new remedies into their current plan.” (Nick Wadhams, Voice of America News)
GLOBAL: Care of dying is outlined by WHO
The World Health Organization has issued its first guide on end-of-life care. “Everyone has the right to be treated, and die, with dignity,” states the document, which is directed at national health ministers rather than individual physicians.
The guide details obstacles to providing appropriate care, including laws that make it difficult for pharmacists to stock strong painkillers, patients’ fears of addiction, and a lack of training for personnel.
Dr Cecilia Sepulveda, a palliative care expert at WHO, said the report was initially created to help countries prepare national cancer plans; however, it is also useful for nations experiencing large numbers of AIDS-related deaths.
(Donald G McNeil Jr, New York Times)
MALAWI: Malawi to double free AIDS drugs coverage by 2010
Malawian Health Minister Marjorie Ngaunje said plans are underway to more than double the number of people receiving free antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in the country.
“With currently 115 000 people on ARVs, the government aims at increasing this number to 245 000 by the year 2010,” she told a conference organized by Doctors Without Borders.
According to UNAIDS, Malawi’s HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 14 percent: Some 930,000 Malawians are living with the disease.
“Approximately 170,000 Malawians are believed to be in urgent need of ARVs today,” she said.
The government’s free ARV program, she said, has been hit by “a persistent crisis over the past decade, which is largely caused by [an] acute shortage of professional health workers in the public health sector.”
With funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Malawi has recruited 5,000 health professionals to increase access to treatment, said Ngaunje.
(Agence France Presse)
PHILIPPINES: Church protest at Philippines condom plan
On Monday in Manila, Roman Catholic bishops decried a government proposal to spend $22 million on condoms and contraception for the poor.
Both are against “nature and God’s law,” Archbishop Angel Lagdameo told the Manila Standard Today.
The money, he said, would be “better spent on education and poverty alleviation projects.” The proposed expenditure is set to fill a void left by a 30-year US Agency for International Development free contraception program that ends next year.
(Agence France Presse)