Four European Nations Announce HIV, Hospital Partnership Initiative With Developing Countries
Italy, France, Luxembourg and Spain announced yesterday that they have formed a partnership to develop hospital infrastructure and provide HIV/AIDS treatment in the developing world, Agence France-Presse reports. The project, known as ESTHER after its French acronym, has already received $7.9 million from France and a promise of $9.6 million over three years from Luxembourg. Portugal has also pledged to join the project, which seeks to enable hospitals in developing nations to "work in the most efficient manner," and leaders hope more European nations will decide to join. French Health Minister Bernard Kouchner said Belgium, Norway, Switzerland and the United States have shown "encouraging signs" of cooperation. However, German and British authorities may need more encouragement to participate, he said. Spanish Health Minister Celia Villalobos said that all European Union members may be on board by the end of the year, adding, "We four have made the first step. Now, the initiative has to be explained to the others and we hope that we will quickly come to a joint position" (Agence France-Presse, 4/9).
Senegal will be the first country to receive aid from the project. Kouchner said he will sign an agreement with Senegal's health minister next week, and France will provide $572,000 to Senegal this year, with more than $880,000 going to the country's program over three years. Eight French hospitals will work with eight Senegalese medical centers, creating 196 positions for doctors, biologists, pharmacists and other health care workers. The partnership aims to provide antiretroviral drugs to 450 people with HIV/AIDS and prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. Mali, Burkina Faso, Morocco and Cambodia are also slated to receive funding and assistance from the partnership program (Agence France-Presse, 4/9).