Zambia Begins Manufacturing Antiretroviral Drugs With Help From Cuba, Health Minister Says
Zambia has begun manufacturing antiretroviral drugs with help from Cuba, Health Minister Brian Chituwo said on Sunday, Xinhuanet reports. "We have started the manufacture of ARVs in the country," Chituwo said, adding, "Batches of the drug have been produced, but we need a compulsory license from the Ministry of Commerce to enable us to put the drugs on the market" (Xinhuanet, 8/15). He added that other issues, including certification from the World Health Organization and Zambia's Pharmacy and Poisons Board, must be resolved so that "measures are put in place to facilitate the marketing of the drugs." The government will prioritize access to antiretrovirals in areas most affected by HIV/AIDS, such as Lusaka Province and the Copperbelt Province, according to Zambia's Post. Other areas with lower HIV prevalence may not have access to the medications "for some time," the Post reports. Chituwo also said that Zambia is preparing to begin clinical trials of an AIDS vaccine through the Emory AIDS Vaccine Project and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. "The importance of this is that the vaccine is targeting HIV-1, which is prevalent in Africa, Zambia inclusive," Chituwo said, adding, "We hope we can start this year after we explore consultations with various stakeholders to review regulations that govern vaccine trial." He added that an effective vaccine would "change the whole picture of the pandemic," according to the Post. Successful trials of the vaccine have been completed in Belgium and have begun in Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda, according to Chituwo (Mvula, Post, 8/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.