New anti-AIDS programme unveiled

TANZANIA: New anti-AIDS programme unveiled

DAR ES SALAAM, 21 Jul 2005 (PLUSNEWS) - Former US President Bill Clinton and the Tanzanian president, Benjamin Mkapa, unveiled a new programme on Wednesday to train local medical workers to administer antiretroviral (ARVs) to people living with HIV/AIDS.

"With the availability of drugs it has helped to block transmission of HIV from infected mothers to children and save millions of young people and parents from early deaths," Clinton said at the launch of the Tanzania Benjamin William Mkapa National HIV/AIDS Fellows Programme in Dar es Salaam.

However, he warned that increased availability of ARVs should not be an end in itself, because highly skilled people were needed to administer the therapy, conduct proper testing, as well as provide care and management to those infected.

"It is this area that my foundation and Mkapa's want to work together on, to ensure there are adequate skilled people to manage the task," Clinton said.

Clinton commended Mkapa and his government for implementing HIV/AIDS programmes that would allow some 44,000 people living with HIV/AIDS to be on ARVs by the end of 2005.

"For a country with such a [low] per capita income [US $300], it is a big challenge and there is a long way to go," Clinton said.

He appealed for concerted effort and initiatives to boost the availability of ARVs. The HIV/AIDS Fellows programme is to be co-financed by the Norwegian government, Clinton Foundation and the government. The programme is to train and deploy at least 30 medical workers a year to the countryside.

The Ministry of Health says about two million Tanzanians have died of AIDS since 1983 and a recent survey shows that about 7 percent of the country's adult population - that is two million people - are now HIV positive.


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