Malawi Aims To Triple Number of People Receiving Antiretroviral Drugs With Global Fund Grant
Malawi aims to more than triple the number of HIV-positive people in the country who are receiving antiretroviral drugs at no cost by July with the help of a $14 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a Malawian health official said on Monday, AFP/Independent Online reports (AFP/Independent Online, 1/10). Malawi in May 2004 began a five-year, $196 million nationwide program to provide antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people at no cost. The program is funded by a grant from the Global Fund. Malawian Health Minister Yusuf Mwawa said that 50 sites throughout the country will participate in the program, including hospitals run by the Malawi Defense Force and Malawi Police Service -- two agencies seriously affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/13/04). About 9,500 people currently are enrolled in the program, according to AFP/Independent Online. Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika said that he wants at least one million people in the country to undergo HIV testing this year in order to assess how many of the country's 11 million people need antiretroviral treatment, AFP/Independent Online reports. Health officials say that only about 3% of Malawians have been tested for the disease. Biswick Mwale, head of Malawi's AIDS commission, said that one of the "biggest challenges" facing the antiretroviral program is a shortage of qualified staff to administer the drugs, according to AFP/Independent Online. UNAIDS estimates that Malawi has an HIV/AIDS prevalence of 14% and that 84,000 Malawians died of AIDS-related causes in 2003 (AFP/Independent Online, 1/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.