Government ready to distribute HIV/AIDS drugs
Wednesday 7 January 2004


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ETHIOPIA: Government ready to distribute HIV/AIDS drugs

©  irin

Woman at HIV/AIDS counselling centre

ADDIS ABABA, 15 July (PLUSNEWS) - Ethiopia is on the brink of distributing the country’s first ever anti-retroviral drugs for treating HIV/AIDS – but only to people who can afford them.

The life-saving drugs – which have been imported from India – will sell for around US $40 per person per month, according to the government’s anti-AIDS task force on Tuesday.

Negatu Mereke, who heads the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO), told a news conference that the drugs would be distributed “in a very short period of time.”

Some 300 healthcare workers have been trained to deliver the anti-retroviral drugs, which have now been imported, and sites identified for distribution.

Dr Yigeremu Abebe, an executive board member of HAPCO, said that Ethiopia couldn’t afford to distribute the orally-taken drugs for free to people infected with the virus.

“The government cannot buy drugs because it is not affordable from the treasury," he explained. The country’s annual health budget is around US $120 million a year.

“This is a low-income country and as you know the majority of the population cannot afford these,” Dr Yigeremu added.

But, he said, the cash-strapped government was looking into starting anti-AIDS programmes for donors who are willing to support people living with HIV/AIDS who need the drugs.

It is also looking at reducing the price through negotiations with pharmaceutical companies and also encouraging the private sector to produce generic drugs.

It also emerged that around a third of people seeking voluntary testing for the virus are HIV-positive, according to the head of the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

CDC has tested around 6,000 people at its voluntary and counselling testing (VCT) centres in the capital Addis Ababa.

“Most of the people coming to the VCT centres are worried because they had risky sex or exposure to the virus,” Dr Tadess Wuhib, CDC’s country director, told PlusNews.

“Voluntary testing is very important," he stressed, urging prominent and high profile figures to get tested “because it is a major prevention strategy".



Recent ETHIOPIA Reports

New film depicts the suffering of women living with HIV,  6/Jan/04
Tackling HIV/AIDS through music,  9/Dec/03
Feature - Tackling HIV/AIDS,  1/Dec/03
Interview with UNAIDS head Bunmi Makinwa,  28/Nov/03
UN Day marked in Addis Ababa,  24/Oct/03


AIDS Law Unit
National AIDS Commission of Malawi
Catholic AIDS Action
Regional AIDS Initiaitive of Southern Africa (RAISA)
Positive Action Lesotho

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.


PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:


  • IRIN

  • Inter Press Service (IPS)



  • Health Systems Trust

  • Health & Development

  • GTZ/Afronets

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