300 people to receive free antiretroviral drugs

SIERRA LEONE: 300 people to receive free antiretroviral drugs

FREETOWN, 20 Jan 2005 (PLUSNEWS) - The government of Sierra Leone has launched a programme to provide free antiretrovial (ARV) drugs to 300 people living with AIDS, Professor Sidi Alghali, director of the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) said.

He told a workshop for training medical staff in the use of ARV drugs that 15 people had already started receiving the medication, which prolongs the life of people living with AIDS and improves their state of health.

Alghali said the government had provided US $180,000 to fund the initial one-year programme, which was being run by the Sierra Leone Treatment Action Group (SILTAG), a local non-governmental organisation.

Dr Brima Kargbo, the leader of the treatment team at NAS, said his organisation had so far identified 206 people living with AIDS in Sierra Leone.

About 28 of them were presently receiving antiretroviral treatment from private medical practitioners, but they were having to pay about 220,000 Leones ($73) per month for their drugs, he added.

This government-sponsored programme uses the generic drugs Tiomune and Duvoir, which are produced in India and are much cheaper.

Kargbo said this treatment - delivered free to people living with AIDS - would cost the government 47,600 Leones ($17) per patient per month.


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