Nigeria Receives Shipment of Antiretroviral Drugs To End Four-Month Shortage
Nigeria has received the first installment of a shipment of antiretroviral drugs worth nearly $4 million to end a four-month shortage in the country's national HIV/AIDS treatment program, Reuters reports. Nigerian Health Minister Eyitayo Lambo said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the shipment would be distributed to the country's 25 HIV/AIDS treatment centers, many of which have not had sufficient medicines since September 2003. In 2002, Nigeria launched the program, which aims to provide generic antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people at a subsidized cost of $7 per person, according to Reuters (Reuters, 1/17). However, AIDS advocates and patients said that government commitment to the program has waned, and the treatment centers in July 2003 began distributing expired drugs and rejecting patients (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/4). Lambo blamed the drug shortage on a lack of money and an "over-enrollment of patients" in the drug program, according to Reuters (Reuters, 2/17). Currently, 10,000 adults and 5,000 children are enrolled in the program. However, Lambo said that the government expects to enroll an additional 300,000 patients before 2006 and establish additional treatment centers, Nigeria's Daily Times reports. The new shipment, which will go toward treating patients already enrolled in the program, will last for two months, and a second shipment of drugs is expected "soon" to cover patients for one year, according to the Times (Timothy, Daily Times, 2/18). UNAIDS and the Nigerian government estimate that 3.5 million HIV-positive people live in the country, which has the largest population -- 130 million -- of any African nation (Reuters, 2/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.