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ETHIOPIA: Anti-HIV/AIDS drugs to be produced locally

Photo: Anthony Mitchell/IRIN
AIDS warning in Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, 15 April 2003 (PlusNews) - Ethiopia is to become one of the first countries in Africa to produce its own drugs to tackle the devastating HIV/AIDS crisis, health officials told PlusNews on Tuesday.

The country, alongside South Africa, is to receive technological support so that it can manufacture anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs to treat patients suffering from the virus.

The scheme, which was announced by Ethiopia’s Drug Administration and Control Authority, could save the impoverished country millions of dollars.

Mengistu Wolde-Aregay, deputy head at the authority, told IRIN that by producing its own drugs Ethiopia could afford to treat more patients.

The government is looking at paying for ARVs to prevent mother to child transmission. But other patients would have pay for drugs themselves.

Mengistu said that Ethiopia and South Africa are the only two countries on the continent to be selected for the scheme, which should be up and running within three months.

"This is a burning issue for Ethiopia because of the burden placed on the country by the number of people with HIV/AIDS," Mengistu said. "Increasing the access to anti-retroviral drugs is very important for a country like ours. It will make the drugs more affordable."

The scheme will involve a "technological transfer" to South Africa and Ethiopia of expertise, and a pilot scheme is expected to be launched to assess the success of the plan.

But as yet it is unclear who will provide the technology to manufacture generic medication in the country or how those drugs will then be distributed.

Both South Africa and Ethiopia are facing severe HIV/AIDS crises. Around three million people in Ethiopia have the virus and one million children have been orphaned.

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Theme (s): Care/Treatment - PlusNews, Other,

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