Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Isn't it about time Africa started to manufacture its own ARV treatment for HIV/AIDS?

The UN has warned against the high dependency by African countries on external sources for HIV and Aids funding.The organisation’s agency mandated to tackle the disease, UNAids, described the continent’s over-reliance on donor aid as unsustainable.

"African governments invest less on HIV/Aids than expected. For the continent as a whole, about five per cent of health budgets are allocated to the scourge, despite its causing a median of more than seven per cent of the overall burden of disease across countries," stated part of a brief posted on the agency’s website early this week.

The brief, titled Aids Dependency Crisis: Sourcing African Solutions, reveals that two-thirds of all HIV and Aids expenditure in Africa comes from external sources.

International support for the disease in the continent dropped by 13 per cent between 2009 and 2010 from $8.7 billion to $7.6 billion (Sh667 billion to Sh583 billion).The cut in funding, the first time in its ten-year history, was attributed to the global economic crisis. About Sh900 billion will be needed annually by 2015 to prevent new HIV infections and scale up treatment in Africa. Additionally, Sh307 billion more than the current expenditure is needed to effectively fight the disease.

The agency also noted that procurement of anti-retroviral drugs was highly dependent on external funding. In 27 countries for which accurate data was available, 84 per cent of expenditure for ARV therapy originated from international sources.

In Kenya, where it is estimated that 1.5 million people are infected with HIV, development partners support 85 per cent of the HIV budget. Over 400,000 people are receiving ARVs while another 600,000 require the drugs but cannot access them.Among the measures mooted by UNAids to help reduce over-dependence on donor support is development of a common drug regulatory authority that would ensure access to quality, life-saving medicines.

"Investing in local manufacturing and simplifying market access to drugs across the continent will boost the economy, reduce costs and ultimately save lives and money,"

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