African Health Ministers Call for Additional Assistance From Wealthy Countries To Fight HIV/AIDS
Health ministers from several African countries on Thursday while in Rome called on wealthy countries to provide more assistance to deliver "high quality" drug treatment for individuals living with HIV/AIDS and called on pharmaceutical companies to lower antiretroviral drug prices "to the point of being compatible with the weak resources of our countries," Agence France-Presse reports. At a two-day conference sponsored by the Community of Sant'Egidio, health ministers from the Central African Republic, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania and Togo released a statement saying that treatment for HIV/AIDS should be considered a "human right," according to Agence France-Presse. "AIDS is affecting the entire planet, but currently 70% of its victims die and are born in Africa," the statement said, adding that the most developed countries should "mobilize economic and human resources to bring a halt to this extermination." Only 3% of the 3.9 million HIV/AIDS patients in Africa who could benefit from antiretroviral drugs have access to such treatment, according to Agence France-Presse. Sant'Egidio representatives at the conference presented data on a pilot program begun in Mozambique in 2002 to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. The program, called "Dream," has had the "best results obtained up until now in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of treatment," according to the program's coordinator Paola Germano. Under the Dream program, which provides antiretroviral treatment to HIV-positive pregnant women, 400 HIV-negative infants have been born to HIV-positive women. The program also has tested 7,000 people for HIV in Mozambique, according to Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse, 5/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.