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NIGERIA: Programme to supply AIDS drugs delayed

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

NAIROBI, 4 September (PLUSNEWS) - A Nigerian pilot programme that would provide cheap antiretrovirals to people living with HIV/AIDS did not begin on 1 September as planned, Reuters reported last week. Largely seen as the most ambitious generic AIDS treatment programme, the pilot project plans to provide 10,000 adults and 5,000 children with generic copies of antiretroviral drugs.

The Nigerian government bought the drugs from Indian drug maker Cipla for US $350 per year per person, and plans to subsidise up to 80 percent of the cost. According to the Reuters report, the launch of the programme has been delayed because the technicians who will monitor and evaluate the programme have not been trained, the government has not indicated “where or how” the medicines will be distributed and no list has been released naming those who will receive the drugs. Dr Oni Idigbe, the director general of the Nigerian Medical Institute of Research and a member of the committee in charge of the programme, said that the project “might start on September 7”.

Meanwhile, AIDS advocates and HIV-positive citizens are reported to be sceptical about the programme and whether the government will live up to its promises. Dr Sani Gwarzo, the programme’s technical director, stated that the project will move to an accelerated phase within two years to reach more people with HIV/AIDS, as the government hopes to eventually supply antiretrovirals to all Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS.



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