Ghana Begins Antiretroviral Treatment Distribution
Ghana earlier this month began providing antiretroviral treatment to some HIV-positive people living in the country, Reuters reports. Sekyi Amoah, director-general of the Ghana AIDS Commission, said, "We started providing free antiretroviral drugs to patients in four hospitals around the country this month. Our target is to have 6,000 people on the drugs each year over the next two years." The antiretroviral drugs are partially subsidized through a $15 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which also will help fund refurbishment of the country's hospital and laboratory facilities, in addition to counseling and testing for the next two years. Nii Akwei Addo, AIDS program director for the country's Ministry of Health, said that the Global Fund's grant will cover 2,000 people a year and that the government "will be responsible for the remaining 4,000 patients." Of the 19 million people in Ghana, 3.4% are HIV-positive, and 200 people become infected daily, according to Reuters. Only 1% of people living with HIV/AIDS in Ghana will have access to antiretroviral treatment, Reuters reports. Amoah said, "That may not sound like a lot of people, but it's not everyone who has HIV who needs to be put on antiretrovirals." Addo added that the country's attorney general's office is considering whether it would be feasible to produce generic antiretrovirals locally without breaking World Trade Organization intellectual property rules, Reuters reports. He said, "Once the legal issues have been cleared, we'll include that possibility in our options" (Sakyi-Addo, Reuters, 1/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.