Companies to supply cheaper anti-retrovirals to Burundi

Bujumbura- Burundi (PANA) -- Burundi has reached an agreement with four pharmaceutical laboratories to obtain anti-retrovirals at a cost 90 percent less than in the United States.
Revealing this at a news conference in Bujumbura, the director of the national AIDS and STD control programme, Dr.
Joseph Wakana identified the companies as Bachringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Glacosmithkline and Merck.
Under the agreements, the country would be able to supply a wide range of AIDS drugs at a cost of 700 US dollars per patient per year.
The director said that the companies agreed to provide the long term supplies of the life-prolonging drugs.
The agreements were signed as part of the partnership involving five UN agencies (World Bank, UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and UNAIDS) and the four companies.
Wakana explained that the objective of this partnership is to speed up access to health care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Meanwhile, the Burundian government has pledged to grant tax exemption on all medicines including anti-retrovirals, allocated a portion of the national budget to the National Therapeutic Solidarity Fund and undertake a community mobilisation campaign aimed at improving access to medicines.
Official figures indicate that at least 360,000 people are living with HIV in Burundi, 11 percent of them women and 20 percent men.
Between 3.
5 percent and 7.
5 percent of rural dwellers are living with AIDS, according the same figures.
However, the number of new cases has tended to stabilise in urban areas for the past four years, thanks to a vast campaign by the authorities, notably in the areas of prevention and education, Dr Wakana noted.
However, according to the chairperson of the National Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Burundi Bernadette Mpekeyimana, a lot remains to be done.
Mpekeyimana said this Sunday evening on the second AIDS Control Day in Burundi initiated by the government last year.
Before the price reduction under the latest agreement, a person living with HIV/AIDS had to pay 12 million Burundi Francs each year for the triple-therapy (12,000 dollars), she said.
The new agreements would reduce the cost to 1.
3 million Burundian francs for special drugs and 700,000 Burundian francs for generic anti-retrovirals.
However, she advised Burundians that prevention remains the most effective means of controlling the AIDS pandemic.
A consignment of 3.
3 million condoms has just arrived in Burundi.

30 april 2001 17:11:00

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