Largest HIV/AIDS Training Center in Sub-Saharan Africa Opens in Uganda; Institute Funded Largely by Pfizer
The largest HIV/AIDS training center in sub-Saharan Africa opened on Wednesday in Uganda, Reuters reports (Wallis, Reuters, 10/20). The Infectious Diseases Institute will be a "major" center for training health care workers in antiretroviral drug therapy and advanced HIV/AIDS management, according to AFP/Yahoo! News. The institute is expected to treat as many as 300 patients daily and train 250 HIV/AIDS specialists annually, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/20). IDI is a public-private partnership among U.S.-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer -- which with the Pfizer Foundation has contributed more than $15 million to the project -- Makerere University in Uganda, Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation, the Academic Alliance Foundation for AIDS Care and Prevention in Africa and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (PGAF release, 10/20). Many of the health care workers trained at IDI will work in rural clinics, "where resources are scarce," according to BBC News. Dr. Moses Kamya, IDI's head of training, said, "If and when they begin prescribing ARVs, they need to know what tests they can do without and still be relatively successful in monitoring and treating patients" (BBC News, 10/21). IDI Director Dr. Keith McAdam said that the center could treat up to 10,000 patients annually, according to the AP/San Jose Mercury News. McAdam added that IDI will provide treatment at no cost to patients who use antiretrovirals provided by large drug companies. "We are training trainers, people who will train others," McAdam said, adding, "The experts are trained to handle all drugs, including generics."
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who officially opened the institute on Wednesday, said that 70,000 Ugandans were infected with HIV in the past year, according to the AP/Mercury News. "We need this new institute," Museveni said, adding, "We are very happy with the Americans. This multi-pronged attack on the enemy will bear results these days" (Wasswa, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 10/20). Pfizer CEO Hank McKinnell said, "We know that one hospital in one African nation is not going to solve the crisis of HIV/AIDS," adding, "But we also understand that if professionals at this hospital can train a hundred like them in a year, then that hundred can train thousands more in the years that follow" (Wallis, Reuters/Washington Times, 8/21). Merle Sande, president of the American Alliance Foundation, said, "The IDI reflects true partnerships between academicians in North America and Africa and the public/private sectors who have come together to build infrastructure to combat the most threatening disease to attack mankind," adding, "Through integrating African and Western models of care we are developing new models of HIV/AIDS care for the African population" (PGAF release, 10/20).