Zimbabwe To Begin Providing Antiretroviral Drugs Next Month, Aims To Treat 260,000 by End of 2005
Owen Mugurungi, program coordinator for the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Tuberculosis and AIDS Program, on Thursday announced that the government next month will begin providing antiretroviral drugs to some of its HIV-positive citizens as part of the country's implementation of the World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency, 2/12). The $5.5 billion WHO plan aims to treat three million people throughout the world with antiretroviral drugs by 2005. The plan also calls for training 100,000 health care workers, refocusing 10,000 clinics in developing countries to treat HIV/AIDS and using some common antiretroviral drug combinations but does not provide the drugs or subsidize their cost (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/9). The Zimbabwean government plans to provide drugs first through five hospitals to 4,000 patients and three months later expand the program to reach 260,000 patients by the end of 2005. At least 800 of the first 4,000 patients to be treated will be HIV-positive children, Mugurungi said. Although the government has obtained $14.6 million for the initiative, Mugurungi said that more funds are needed. Francis Onyango, WHO medical officer in charge of care, treatment and support for HIV-positive people in the capital Harare, said that financial resources, drug supplies and support systems are needed for the country to reach its goals. Onyango added that a "well-coordinated structure" is necessary in order for the country to attract donors. About 500,000 of the country's 1.8 million HIV-positive people need antiretroviral treatment, according to Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 2/12).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.