African Union Leaders Approve Development of Plan To Encourage Production of Generic AIDS, TB, Malaria Drugs on Continent
African leaders at the end of the two-day African Union summit in Abuja, Nigeria, approved the development of a pharmaceutical manufacturing plan to bring "quality" generic drugs to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and polio across the continent, the AngolaPress reports. The plan will aid the production of the reduced-cost drugs in coordination with support from international groups to stem the spread of the diseases, according to the AngolaPress (AngolaPress , 1/31). According to the World Health Organization's December 2004 "3 by 5 Progress Report," 310,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa in December 2004 were receiving antiretroviral drugs -- leaving approximately 3.7 million HIV-positive people without treatment. Increasing the number of patients who receive drug therapy has become a major challenge for some African governments, as the demand for the subsidized drugs outstrips the supply. Generic versions of some antiretrovirals have been priced at $300 per patient annually -- compared with $600 for brand-name drugs -- the cost of which WHO hopes would be offset by private and government funding pledges, international aid organizations and national resources (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/31). The summit leaders emerged with a "renewed determination to tackle HIV/AIDS," among other issues, and "urged" member nations to implement effective national programs that promote improved access to prevention, treatment and care, according to the AngolaPress. Leaders also expressed support for WHO's 3 by 5 Initiative, which aims to provide three million people living with HIV/AIDS with antiretroviral drugs by the end of 2005 (AngolaPress , 1/31).
Call for 'Tsunami-Style' Funding
The African Union Commission on Monday called for a "tsunami-style mobilization of resources" in Africa to fight the continent's' HIV/AIDS pandemic, the AngolaPress reports. The "overwhelming result" of funds collected for the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami showed "where there was a will, there was a way," Bience Gawanas, A.U. commissioner for social affairs, said, according to the AngolaPress. "We also have our own tsunami-type disaster in HIV/AIDS," Gawanas said, adding, "We should be able to mobilize resources for this disease that has been killing people for decades." The summit also was considered a "kickoff" for preparing the mid-term review of progress toward meeting the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, which aim to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015, Gawanas said. "Resource mobilization remains the fundamental issue if we are to meet the target," Gawanas said, adding, "We do not need new strategies. We need to urge the international community to meet their commitments." The African continent is home to 10% of the world's population, but about 60% of all HIV-positive people. In 2004, there were 3.1 million new cases of HIV in Africa, where a total of 25.4 million people have died of AIDS-related causes (AngolaPress , 1/31).