South Africa Plans To Launch First Phase of Antiretroviral Treatment Plan by End of Year, Health Official Says
The head of the South African team established to create a national antiretroviral treatment plan on Friday said that the country will likely launch the first phase of the plan by the end of the year, Reuters reports (Reuters, 9/5). The South African government on Aug. 8 called for the Ministry of Health to develop a national program to provide antiretroviral medications to residents with HIV/AIDS, and government officials named a team to help the government and public health leaders develop the plan. The team is led by Dr. Anthony Mbewu, executive director for research at South Africa's Medical Research Council, and will include some experts from the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation. Nono Simelela, chief director of the South African Department of Health's HIV/AIDS program, serves as deputy head of the team (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/28). Mbewu said on Friday that paying for the plan over the next five years will cost approximately $2.2 billion, which is 40% of South Africa's health budget, according to Reuters. Mbewu said that the antiretroviral drugs will likely be purchased from both local and foreign generic drug makers, Reuters reports. He added, "We don't envisage antiretrovirals will be immediately available for all people needing the drugs. The operational plan will prescribe a scaled-up process. Some of the facilities will start this year." Mbewu said that the team expects to have a plan submitted to the South African cabinet by its Sept. 30 deadline, Reuters reports (Reuters, 9/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.