Mozambique Unable To Launch Nationwide Antiretroviral Drug Program Due to Staff, Equipment Shortages
Mozambique Health Minister Francisco Songane on Monday said that the country will not be able to launch a nationwide antiretroviral drug program due to "serious" staff and equipment shortages, Reuters reports (Esipisu, Reuters, 5/24). Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano on Saturday announced that the country had launched a pilot program to provide free antiretroviral drugs to 8,000 HIV-positive adults. The program, which is funded by the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation and the World Bank, expects to cover only a very small number of people, but Chissano said he was seeking more funding to expand distribution. Mozambique is one of the 16 African and Caribbean countries expected to receive money from the five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Mozambique has a population of 18 million people, and approximately 1.5 million of them are HIV-positive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/24). Songane said that about 120,000 HIV-positive people in the country "urgently" need antiretroviral treatment, but many do not have access to the drugs. "It is simply impossible to imagine that we can distribute [antiretrovirals] countrywide," Songane said, adding, "We do not have the capacity to do that. We do not have the trained manpower or the infrastructure to handle such a massive program." Songane said that the country could "import" medical personnel to provide treatment, but "in the long term that does not help the Mozambique people," according to Reuters. Songane said he expects to receive "millions" of dollars more in aid from the United States to combat HIV/AIDS, adding that Mozambique's priority is building hospitals specializing in HIV/AIDS care and prevention. Mozambique is negotiating with Brazil and another unnamed country to build factories to domestically manufacture generic antiretroviral drugs, Songane said, according to Reuters (Reuters, 5/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.