Tanzania To Provide Antiretroviral Drugs Free-of-Charge Beginning Next Month, President Mkapa Says
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa on Wednesday said that the government by next month plans to provide antiretroviral drugs free-of-charge to people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, Xinhua News Agency reports. Mkapa made the announcement during a ceremony in which the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria granted Tanzania $87.9 million to fight HIV/AIDS, according to the country's Daily News newspaper, Xinhua News Agency reports. Mkapa also "implored" HIV-positive patients to adhere to medical advice regarding nutrition and diet, according to Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 9/1). Last month, the Tanzanian government released $1.8 million to the country's Ministry of Health to purchase antiretroviral drugs for distribution to HIV/AIDS patients at no cost under its four-year treatment program. The distribution of the antiretrovirals originally was scheduled to take place in March but was deferred until October because of delays in the release of the funds. Tanzanian Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye previously had said that at least 30,000 of the approximately 2.2 million HIV-positive people in the country would have access to antiretrovirals by 2005. The country has plans to increase the number of HIV/AIDS patients who receive antiretrovirals to 220,000 between 2005 and 2006. The majority of Tanzanians live on less than $1 per day, while the average daily cost of antiretrovirals is more than $1 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/24).
Mkapa on Wednesday also called for increased efforts to provide sexual education initiatives for young people as a part of the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country, according to Xinhuanet. He said that it is "high time Tanzanians cease deceiving themselves with the moral gimmick and become serious and objective in providing sex education to youngsters," Xinhuanet reports. In addition, he "decried" Tanzania's "failure" in educating young people on reproductive health, contraception and HIV prevention, according to Xinhuanet (Xinhuanet, 9/1).