Uganda To Begin Providing Antiretroviral Drugs in February, Health Minister Says
Ugandan Minister of Health Jim Muhwezi on Wednesday announced that the country in February will use a $3 million grant from the World Bank to begin providing free antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people, the Monitor/AllAfrica.com reports (Nakazibwe, Monitor/AllAfrica.com, 12/17). Muhwezi said that the program will supply the drugs first to HIV-positive orphans, people involved in the country's program to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, health care workers who contracted HIV through their work and other "less privileged" groups (Washington Times, 12/18). An estimated 100,000 of the 1.2 million HIV-positive Ugandans are in need of antiretroviral treatment but only 17,000 currently have access to the drugs, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 12/17). In addition to the $3 million World Bank grant, the country has received $54 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, of which $9 million has been allocated for the antiretroviral drug program. The country will receive an additional $62 million from the Global Fund to purchase the drugs (Monitor/AllAfrica.com, 12/17). The drug distribution program will make Uganda the second country in Africa to provide free antiretroviral drugs, according to Muhwezi (Komakech/Cocks, New Vision/All Africa.com, 12/2). Muhwezi in October said that the country would use generic antiretroviral drugs for the programs, adding, "We have a law in place that allows us to import generic drugs in a crisis and we will certainly be doing this." Muhwezi said that the country has not yet negotiated pricing but that it would buy generic antiretrovirals as long as the drugs pass World Health Organization approval standards (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.