BURKINA FASO: Government aims to put 30,000 on ARVs by 2010
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
OUAGADOUGOU, 5 July (PLUSNEWS) - The government of Burkina Faso has announced plans to double the number of people living with AIDS on subsidised antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to 10,000 by the end of this year and increase the number of people receiving the life-enhancing drugs to more than 30,000 by 2010.
Joseph Andre Tiendrebeogo, the permanent secretary of the National Council for the Fight against AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (CNLS/IST), told PlusNews that 5,000 people were receiving ARV therapy in Burkina Faso at present at the subsidised price of 5,000 CFA francs (US $10) per month.
"We think we will be at 10,000 by the end of this year," Tiendrebeogo said.
But he added that the government's new five-year plan to combat HIV/AIDS aimed to double spending over the period 2006-2010 and lift the number of people receiving ARVs to between 30,000 and 35,000. That would cover 80 percent of the people living in Burkina Faso who would benefit from the therapy, he added.
Burkina Faso's current programmes to fight AIDS are mostly financed by the World Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Malaria and Tuberculosis and the African Development Bank.
But Tiendrebeogo said the government would hold a donor conference in October to seek fresh funding for its new five-year plan. This is budgeted at 160 billion CFA francs (US $290 million) and aims to lift the current spending on AIDS prevention and treatment by around $30 million per year.
Besides putting more people on life prolonging ARV treatment, the new five-year plan aims to step up the AIDS prevention campaign and extend HIV/AIDS testing and treatment facilities from Burkina Faso's large cities into smaller towns and even villages.
Mamadou Sakho, the head of UNAIDS in Burkina Faso, said that given the drastic shortage of doctors in this poor West African country of 12 million people, it was essential to provide more HIV/AIDS training for other health workers such as midwives and nurses.
"We must enlarge the base," he said, noting that in some remote areas of Burkina Faso there is only one doctor for 200,000 people. "We have to focus on better access to ARVs for the poorest people."
According to sentinel surveys of pregnant women tested voluntarily at ante-natal clinics, the HIV prevalence rate in Burkina Faso declined from 7.2 percent in 1997 to 4.2 percent at the end of 2003.
But AIDS activists have warned there is no room for complacency.
With at least 365,000 returning migrants coming back from Cote d'Ivoire over the past two years, activists are concerned about a possible surge in HIV infection. Cote d'Ivoire's HIV prevalence rate, officially estimated at seven percent, is one of the highest in West Africa.