Central African Republic President Initiates Construction of HIV/AIDS Treatment Center in Capital City
Central African Republic President Ange-Felix Patasse on Saturday laid the foundation stone for a new $230,000 HIV/AIDS treatment and research center in the capital city of Bangui, U.N. IRIN/AllAfrica.com reports. Construction of the facility -- which will serve up to 2,500 patients and include a pharmacy, a laboratory, a conference room, staff offices, consultation rooms and a four-bed hospitalization room -- will begin in March. CAR officials are concerned about the country's 15% HIV prevalence rate. "I am very frightened by that figure," Patasse said, adding, "By pursuing a relentless war, we hope to reduce that prevalence rate to 5% in five years and to less than 2% in seven years." The center, known as Centre de Tritherapie Ambulatoire, will train specialists in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Patients will be divided into four categories based on their ability to pay for services, and some patients may receive free treatment. The center is part of Patasse's plan to provide easier access to antiretroviral drugs, which was initiated in 1999 but had been delayed due to conflict in the country. "The laying of the foundation stone for the CTA is a decisive step towards the implementation of the global program of caring for HIV/AIDS-infected people," Health Minister Joseph Kalite said. The French Red Cross Society, the Merck Sharp Dhomes Foundation and Hanuman, a CAR-French anti-HIV/AIDS organization, have partnered with the health ministry to oversee the center's construction. The government has provided funds to construct the center's first floor and is discussing obtaining funds from the MSD Foundation for the second floor. According to Laurent Belec of Hanuman, approximately 50 to 60 people die of AIDS each day in Bangui (U.N. IRIN/AllAfrica.com, 3/11).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.