Tanzania’s Antiretroviral Distribution Program Expands After Slow Start
Tanzania's antiretroviral drug distribution program began slowly but is accelerating, with the number of people receiving treatment doubling over the past 10 months, IRIN News/AllAfrica.com reports. By mid-September, 49,315 people were receiving antiretrovirals from state facilities, compared with 23,000 people in December 2005, according to the National AIDS Control Programme. Emma Msuya Lekashingo, NACP's head of care and treatment, said the increase is because of increased funding and a facilitated procurement process, which previously often took many months and sometimes years to complete. Despite the increase, the latest treatment figures fall far short of NACP's goals of treating 66,000 HIV-positive people by the end of 2005 and having 104,000 people receiving antiretrovirals by the end of 2006. According to the World Health Organization, 315,000 people in Tanzania need antiretroviral treatment. Fifteen percent of these people are covered by the program, IRIN News/AllAfrica.com reports. Treatment distribution is being slowed by the inaccessibility of many areas, deep-rooted cultural misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and stigma, according to Lekashingo. The government has set aside $22 million in the 2006-2007 budget for NACP, IRIN News/AllAfrica.com reports. According to NACP, the new government funding will be used to buy antiretrovirals and condoms to be distributed at no cost in many government hospitals and health centers across the country to improve access to treatment and prevention for people in rural areas (IRIN News/AllAfrica.com, 10/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.