Scarce Health Care Infrastructure Most Significant Challenge for Fighting HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, Opinion Piece Says
The "problem in Africa, at least for now, is not the drugs" but health care infrastructure, James Glassman, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who recently joined HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson's delegation on a trip to four African nations, writes in a Washington Times opinion piece (Glassman, Washington Times, 12/15). Thompson toured four African nations with a U.S. delegation of more than 100 lawmakers, business leaders and religious groups, including Randall Tobias, head of the new State Department Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and Richard Holbrooke, president of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The delegation also included UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Executive Director Richard Feachem, CDC Director Julie Gerberding, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni and NIAID Director Anthony Fauci (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/11). Although a program they visited that delivers antiretroviral drugs by motorbike to HIV-positive Ugandans represents a "resourceful system of home-based AIDS care," there is "deep concern" that distributing antiretrovirals without "proper safeguards" could lead to drug resistance and that pharmaceutical companies will not invest "huge sums" for research on the next generation of antiretrovirals, according to Glassman. Tobias has said that witnessing the motorbike-delivery program was a "life-altering experience," but Thompson -- who has made HIV/AIDS in Africa his "special cause" -- has said that the lack of health care infrastructure in Africa is a barrier to further drug distribution, according to Glassman (Washington Times, 12/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.