Zambian Government Declares HIV/AIDS National Emergency, Launches Collaborative Treatment Project
The Zambian government on Friday declared its HIV/AIDS epidemic a national emergency, an announcement that will allow for the local production of generic antiretroviral drugs, SAPA/AFP/Mail and Guardian reports. According to Davidson Chilipamushi, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, the state of emergency will last from August 2004 to July 2009, during which time generic antiretrovirals can be produced but not exported. "In view of the pandemic and the high cost of patented antiretroviral drugs ... the minister (of Commerce, Trade and Industry) has signed a statutory instrument (law) to declare an emergency," Chilipamushi said, adding, "Companies, persons who wish to manufacture, use or sell any generic drugs will henceforth require a written authorization ... during the declared period of emergency" (SAPA/AFP/Mail and Guardian, 9/4). Under World Trade Organization agreements, a country must declare a state of emergency before local companies are permitted to produce patented antiretrovirals, according to Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 9/4). One in five adults in the Southern African country are estimated to be HIV-positive, and 12,000 of them receive subsidized antiretrovirals under the government's HIV/AIDS treatment program. Zambia hopes to treat an additional 100,000 patients under the program by the end of next year (SAPA/AFP/Mail and Guardian, 9/4).
Collaborative Treatment Project
Zambian first lady Maureen Mwanawasa on Sept. 1 launched the Muka Buumi antiretroviral therapy clinic, a collaborative treatment project of AIDS Healthcare Foundation Global Immunity, Salvation Army Chikankata Health Services, the Salvation Army World Service Office, the Mazabuka District Health Management Board and the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia. The clinic is located at the Chikankata Hospital in the Mazabuka District and aims to treat and manage 1,000 HIV-positive patients; establish a training center for health professionals to learn about antiretroviral treatment; and implement a program to expand antiretroviral treatment services. "The combination of commitment and expertise in clinical, public health and management skills that are essential for successful HIV treatment programs are brought together by this exciting new partnership," AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said, adding, "We look forward to a long and successful partnership in the fight against AIDS in Zambia" (AHF release, 9/3). During the dedication ceremony, Mwanawasa also said that the "exodus" of nursing professionals from the country is affecting the quality of health care services in Zambia, according to the Times of Zambia. Mwanawasa "urged" health care workers to remain in the country and called on the Ministry of Community Development to promote the re-establishment of an extended family system to care for AIDS orphans, the Times reports (Times of Zambia, 9/3).