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US firm pledges support for HIV/AIDS treatment
Tuesday 16 November 2004
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TANZANIA: US firm pledges support for HIV/AIDS treatment

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

DAR ES SALAAM , 26 September (PLUSNEWS) - A US-based pharmaceutical company has announced a partnership with the Tanzanian government to modernise the country's public health care infrastructure and develop services and care for people living with HIV/AIDS.

The announcement was made during the 13th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa, held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 22-26 September.

Tanzania Care, the joint venture between Abbot Laboratories and the government, is a public-private partnership that will be implemented by Axios, an organisation supported by Abbot Laboratories.

"Tanzania Care is part of our global commitment of $100m over five years," Reeta Roy, Abbot's divisional vice-president of global citizenship and policy, told IRIN on Friday. "The exact figure is not confirmed yet, but it will be a significant contribution because the need is significant."

Through helping various public health institutions, increasing the training of medical workers and laboratory personnel and expanding access to voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), the partnership will boost Tanzania's capacity to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

UNAIDS puts the number of Tanzanians living with HIV/AIDS at about two million but health officials say that only 1,500 of these have access to the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

The programme will work in four different areas, but initially the focus will be on the renovation of Muhimbili National Hospital, the country's largest public health institution, which will be re-established as Tanzania's primary research, referral and training facility and a regional "Centre for Excellence" in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Abbot Laboratories said that Tanzania Care would also support the National Task Force on HIV/AIDS and build capacity in two other tertiary referral centres, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, Arusha region, and the Mbeya Referral Hospital, to set up ARV treatment and follow up services.

At the same time, the scheme will enable all regional hospitals in Tanzania to offer voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) and post-care prophylaxis.

So far, Tanzania Care is concentrating on setting up the structures and systems for the distribution of ARV drugs but an HIV/AIDS specialist at Muhimbili, Dr Edward Ngwalle, said the intervention was "very timely and valid".

"The focus on treatment is appropriate because reducing the viral load is an important factor in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, Ngwalle told IRIN on Thursday. "However, you can't provide services without the physical infrastructure, the human resources the training and the equipment."

"Also, as we are going along, we need to make sure that we promote treatment literacy," he said. "HIV/AIDS is not a conventional disease and ARV drug are very new on the market. We want to broaden knowledge so that it is not just the doctors that know about the treatment."

Axios Executive Vice-President Anne Reeler said that with so much money being mobilised to tackle HIV/AIDS, the challenge was to set up appropriate infrastructure, "so that that when the drugs are available, they can be used properly and not left on shelves going out of date".

The US firm hopes Tanzania Care can be a public-private partnership model that will be adapted by other companies and countries working to fight HIV/AIDS in the developing world. Similarly, they see "competitive walls crumbling" as rival drug companies collaborate on in HIV initiatives in the developing world.

However, they say, there is still a need to redefine the roles that various bodies will play.

"We want to see where our place is in the future," Jeff Richardson, executive director of Tanzania Care, told IRIN. "We want to get a sense of what we can do, drawing together business and the philanthropic, to maximise our contribution."


Recent TANZANIA Reports
Free drugs for HIV/AIDS patients,  31/Aug/04
Multivitamins retard HIV progression, study finds,  2/Jul/04
Youth airing their concerns in Tanzania,  23/Feb/04
Focus on drawing on traditional remedies to fight HIV/AIDS,  10/Nov/03
US donates $1.5m to UNICEF for refugee work,  10/Oct/03
VIH Internet
Sida Info Services
Le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le SIDA, la tuberculose et le paludisme
Le Réseau Afrique 2000

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