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TANZANIA: Government to step up ARV rollout and VCT


Photo: Eva-Lotta Jansson/IRIN
Tanzania has 77,066 people on the life-prolonging medication
DAR ES SALAAM, 18 July 2007 (PlusNews) - The Tanzanian government has announced plans to nearly double the number of people on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment by the end of 2007.

The East African country, where an estimated 1.4 million people are living with the HI virus, has 77,066 patients on the life-prolonging medication; the government intends to raise the number to 150,000 by December 2007, and to 200,000 by the end of 2008.

"We are going to set up at least 500 new ARV drug prescription centres," health and social welfare minister David Mwakyusa said during the presentation of his 2007/08 budget in Tanzania's administrative capital, Dodoma.

After a difficult start to the ARV rollout in 2005, Tanzania has managed to iron out the kinks in its distribution system. However, many rural areas are still cut off from vital health services, and there are plans to continue decentralising ARV provision.

Mwakyusa's announcement was made shortly after the government began a national voluntary counselling and testing campaign; President Jakaya Kikwete and first lady Salma Kikwete launched the drive on 14 July by being tested for HIV.

"It is possible to attain a zero HIV prevalence rate if people volunteer to know their health status," Kikwete told a huge rally in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

The government has increased the number of VCT centres from 806 in January 2006 to 1,027 in March 2007. "Training counsellors were increased from 1,600 in January 2006 to 2,739 in March this year," Mwakyusa said.

So far, only 15 percent of Tanzanians have been tested for HIV, but the minister said the government planned to screen all patients in hospitals and health centres for HIV/AIDS. "The idea is to diagnose and counsel as many people as possible in the quest to curb new infections."

jk/kr/he


Theme(s): (IRIN) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)

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