U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Begins Tour of Malawi To Assess National Treatment Program
U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis on Wednesday began a four-day tour of Malawi to assess the progress of the country's national treatment program, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/27). Efforts to scale up the country's antiretroviral drug program have been "slowed down by logistical hitches" and health personnel shortages, according to Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 10/27). Malawian President Bakili Muluzi in February launched the country's first national AIDS program, which included $3 million for the provision of antiretroviral drugs and other AIDS treatments. The overall program is funded by grants from UNAIDS, the European Union, the United States, England, Canada, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/12). According to Mary Shaba, permanent secretary for nutrition and HIV/AIDS in the Malawi Ministry of Health, the national program so far has treated only 8,000 people out of a 2005 target of 40,000 because of "logistical hitches" and "shortages of personnel, especially nurses," according to AFP/Yahoo! News. "We want [Lewis] to help us have the drugs at the time we need them and be available when patients need them," she said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/27). Erik Schouten, an HIV/AIDS coordinator in the Malawi health ministry, said that the country is "struggling to get drugs in time. We want to make sure there is no interrupted [antiretroviral] drug supply" (Xinhua News Agency, 10/27). About 760,000 Malawian adults are HIV-positive, and about 70,000 adults in the country die of AIDS-related causes annually, according to AFP/Yahoo! News (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.