AFRICA: Combined initiative announced for drop in anti-AIDS treatment costs
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 6 April (PLUSNEWS) - The Global AIDS Fund, the World Bank, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Clinton Foundation announced on Tuesday that they would join forces to enable developing countries to purchase high-quality anti-AIDS medicines and equipment for HIV/AIDS tests at the lowest prices.
UNICEF executive director, Carol Bellamy, said: "This new partnership works to break down some of the barriers, such as price, supply and demand, that are impeding access to life-saving AIDS medicines and diagnostics in developing countries. UNICEF is very proud to be part of this creative initiative that promises to save lives and bring hope to millions of children and families around the world."
If the initiative succeeds, generic drugs made by Indian and South African pharmaceutical companies could reach virtually every poor country at less than 50 percent of currently prices.
"We regard AIDS as being the single most important issue at the moment in Africa, because of the devastating effect that it has had throughout the continent," World Bank President James Wolfensohn, said.
"This initiative will help to get treatment to those most in need - the world's poorest people. The World Bank is pleased to be a partner in the programme and fully supports it," he added.
The prices for drugs negotiated by the Clinton Foundation were announced in October 2003 and have since been available to 16 countries in Africa and the Caribbean where the Foundation's HIV/AIDS initiative is active.
The drug manufacturers named in the announcement included South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare and four Indian companies: Cipla, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Hetero Drugs, and Matrix Laboratories.
In January this year, the Clinton Foundation said it had brokered deals with diagnostics companies to provide testing machines, chemicals and training in a dozen African and Caribbean countries at discounts of up to 80 percent on market prices.
Under the Clinton Foundation drug agreement, countries wanting to get cut-price medicines would have to build up health systems to deliver them to patients, and prevent diversion of the drugs to rich countries, where they could be resold at sizable profits.