Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Botswanan President Calls for Increased Antiretroviral Drug Distribution
Botswanan President Festus Mogae yesterday said that his nation had to begin distributing antiretroviral drugs to people with HIV/AIDS or risk losing its skilled work force, the AP/Nando Times reports.
Thirty-eight percent of Botswana's adult population is
HIV-positive, the highest infection rate in the world. Although the country has begun a limited drug distribution plan, more needs to be done, Mogae said. Under the drug program in place, 250 HIV-positive people are receiving antiretroviral drugs from a hospital in Gaborone, and 800 people are on a waiting list due to a lack of doctors to prescribe the medicines. "We are short of doctors. We are short of nurses. We are short of pharmacists. We are short of health technicians," Mogae said, noting that HIV/AIDS is partly responsible for the shortage of medical personnel because it is killing skilled workers. Still, the government plans to move ahead with the drug distribution program, the first in Africa. The government plans to open three more sites by July and hopes to enroll 19,000 people by the end of the year. "We do not believe it is fair to offer people prevention strategies without offering them treatment and care," Health Minister Joy Phumaphi said. Botswana, which has more money than most African nations due to its diamond trade, is receiving funding for the program from pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The government expects to spend $200 million on antiretroviral drugs within five years. "The economy stands more to suffer from not having the program than from having it," Phumaphi said (Nessman, AP/Nando Times, 4/9).
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.