CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: 20 doctors receive instruction on anti-HIV drug prescription
BANGUI, 16 October (PLUSNEWS) - Local doctors in the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), Bangui, have ended a three-day training workshop on the prescription of antiretrovirals (ARVs), a lecturer at Bangui University's faculty of medicine told IRIN on Wednesday.
"This training will allow us to have more personnel to follow and care for HIV patients," Dr Valentin Fikouma, the lecturer on infectious diseases, said.
He said the 20 physicians attending the workshop had been instructed on the medical, clinical and biological symptoms of HIV patients and at what stage to prescribe the drugs. Fikouma is one of 12 local physicians authorised by the government to prescribe ARVs. He said he and all the others, as well as the six health facilities authorised to treat HIV/AIDS, were in Bangui.
The newly trained HIV/AIDS physicians will, initially, work with those already authorised to prescribe ARVs. While awaiting government clearance to prescribe ARVs, the physicians will be counselling patients willing to buy ARVs and directing them to the physicians authorised prescribe them.
The workshop was conducted by Bangui University lecturers and senior physicians allowed to prescribe ARVs.
Since September 2002, ARVs had become cheaper in the CAR, dropping from 300,000 francs CFA (US $500) to 22,800 francs for month's supply, the director of government's ARV Easy Access Programme, Dr Bertrand Wata, told IRIN on Wednesday. Yet, he said, they remained too expensive, noting, however, that as a result of the signing early in August of a $25 million five-year agreement between the government and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, they would become much cheaper in a matter of months.
Construction is due to begin before December on a $250,000 Triple Therapy Centre in Bangui and is expected to greatly enhance the treatment of people living with HIV. The CAR is the worst HIV-affected nation in the subregion. A study by the Pasteur Institute in December 2002 revealed that 14.8 percent of the country's 3.5 million people were HIV positive. It indicated that most patients were in rural areas, where there are no physicians authorised to prescribe ARVs.