Botswana Antiretroviral Drug Distribution Program Will Reach 50,000 People by 2005, Health Minister Says
Botswana Health Minister Lesego Motsumi on Tuesday at the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, said that the country will meet by next year its target of distributing antiretroviral drugs at no cost to about 50% of those who need them -- about 50,000 HIV-positive people, Reuters reports. Currently, 17,400 people are receiving antiretroviral therapy through the country's public health service; an additional 6,700 receive the medications from the private sector, Reuters reports (Reuters, 7/13). Dr. Patson Mazonde, deputy permanent health secretary, said that the program had enrolled 28,000 people in 17 locations and expansion is planned to 15 more sites this year (SAPA, 7/13). Botswana's program is "a case study for Africa" that represents "what it will take to successfully introduce ARV therapy on a mass scale," the Ministry of Health said in a statement (South African Press Association, 7/12). However, a "crucial problem" has been that few people are undergoing HIV testing, according to Earnest Darkoh, head of operations for Botswana's national antiretroviral treatment program, Reuters reports. Botswana introduced voluntary routine HIV testing in January, and HIV-positive diagnoses have increased, according to Reuters (Reuters, 7/13).
London's Guardian on Thursday profiled Botswana's drug program (Carroll, Guardian, 7/15). The full article is available online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.