Tanzania Plans To Increase Number of People Receiving No-Cost Antiretroviral Drugs From 4,000 to 44,000
The Tanzanian government this year plans to "sharply" increase from about 4,000 to 44,000 the number of HIV-positive people receiving antiretroviral drugs at no cost, Tanzanian Health Minister Anna Abdallah said on Thursday, Reuters reports (Nyambura, Reuters, 3/17). In August 2004, the Tanzanian government released $1.8 million to the country's Ministry of Health to purchase antiretroviral drugs for distribution to HIV/AIDS patients under its four-year treatment program (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/2/04). Abdallah said the government at the end of 2004 was providing 4,000 HIV-positive people in the country with antiretroviral drugs at a cost of $2 million. She added that the health ministry has released $3.5 million to purchase antiretrovirals for 2005 and received a "similar amount" from Canada to purchase more medications, according to Reuters. "We hope to reach 44,000 by the end of this year," Abdallah said, adding, "The total number of patients we wish to reach is 500,000 by 2008. We have other stakeholders who are helping us." Tanzania has received $49 million from the five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and has requested $80 million in PEPFAR funds for 2005, according to officials at the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Reuters, 3/17). The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last year granted Tanzania $87.9 million to fight HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/2/04). According to U.N. statistics, between 12% and 15% of adults in Tanzania are HIV-positive and 200,000 of them need antiretroviral therapy, according to Reuters. Abdallah said that an increasing number of tuberculosis cases could be a sign that the number of HIV cases also is increasing, according to Reuters. "Our worry is that the number (of TB patients) is on the increase. It was 19,000 in 1995. It has reached 65,665 in 2003," Abdallah said, adding, "This is a dangerous situation. If the society does not take precautionary steps, the situation will only get worse" (Reuters, 3/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.