Swaziland Applies for $48.5M Global Fund Grant, Selects Preferred Suppliers for Antiretroviral Drug Program
Officials on Wednesday announced that Swaziland has applied for a five-year, $48.5 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and has selected preferred drug suppliers for its antiretroviral drug program, Reuters reports (Reuters, 4/28). U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis last month announced that the country recently surpassed Botswana as having the world's highest HIV/AIDS prevalence (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/22). The country's HIV prevalence has reached 38.8%, according to U.N. estimates (Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/29). The grant request -- which is being considered with fourth-round grant proposals that the Global Fund is expected to announce in June -- would include $7 million for the first year, officials said, according to Reuters. The funding would be used to provide home care for HIV-positive people, as well as health education and HIV prevention programs (Reuters, 4/28). In addition, the government plans to target HIV prevention education for orphans and people under age 18 through team sports, life-skills training, health intervention and theater and arts programs. "One of the most vulnerable groups is out-of-school youth. They are poor and hard to reach. They don't read newspapers or listen to the radio," National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS Director Derek Von Wissell said, adding, "But worse, they have no vision of ... where they want to go in life."
NERCHA has been purchasing and distributing antiretroviral drugs through a pilot program introduced last year, but the program has been informal, Von Wissell said. The country's National Drugs Advisory Council recently completed the selection process for preferred suppliers for NERCHA's national antiretroviral drug program, U.N. IRIN reports. The council selected brand-name pharmaceutical companies Abbott Laboratories and Merck Sharp & Dohme and generic producers Hetero Drugs and Ranbaxy Laboratories as preferred drug suppliers. "The bidding process for ARVs has dropped prices significantly," Von Wissell said, adding, "For the cost to treat 1,000 patients a year ago ... we can now treat 1,500 patients, 50% more than we budgeted for." The Global Fund, which helps to finance the drug program, has been notified of the drug companies the council has selected, according to U.N. IRIN (U.N. IRIN, 4/28).