Mozambique will import anti-retroviral drugs

Maputo- Mozambique (PANA) -- The Mozambican Health Ministry has pledged to introduce anti-retroviral drugs, which prolong the lives of people suffering from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, into the national health service.
The ministry, however, warned that it would not be possible to extend the anti-retroviral treatment to all those infected with HIV, currently estimated at 16 percent of the adult population.
A document distributed at this week's meeting of the Ministry's Co-ordinating Council points out that, despite the high price of the drugs, a large number of HIV-positive Mozambicans are acquiring anti-retroviral drugs in South Africa, and some have begun anti-retroviral treatment in Mozambican private clinics.
Some of these patients pay for the drugs out of their own pockets, while in other cases (where the patients are high ranking company officials, for instance) their employers pay all or part of the costs.
The Ministry fears that this sort of treatment could lead to viral resistance to the drugs.
Given the high costs, the need for frequent visits to South Africa, and the complexity of the treatment (which requires a variety of drugs to be taken every day), the Ministry suspects that many of these patients are not following the treatment rigorously.
This raises the spectre of viral resistance, and the appearance of resistant strains of HIV in Mozambique "would lead to an extremely difficult situation, for it would greatly complicate the entire support structure, which is already not strong.
Costs would increase, and the quality of life for the patients would decline".
Bearing these factors in mind, the Ministry thought it important to administer anti-retrovirals through the national health service, so there could be adequate control of the patients and the regime they are supposed to follow - even if only a minority would have access to this treatment.

01 june 2001 23:28:00

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