Kampala- Uganda (PANA) -- Uganda has embarked on a countrywide distribution of anti-retroviral drugs that prolong the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS.
These drugs are being administered to patients at five major hospitals within Kampala, the capital, which meet the set medical standards.
Officials at the ministry of health told journalists in Kampala Friday that "only qualified centres should participate in this activity because anti-retroviral drugs have to administered under close supervision from qualified medical workers.
" The prices of most used combinations of the anti-retroviral drugs range from about 150,000 Uganda shillings to 720.
000 shillings, down from 1.
8 million shillings charged in 1997.
(1USD = 1,700 Uganda shillings) "Expansion of the access of the drugs will cover the entire country in a phased manner beginning with regional hospitals and eventually to district hospitals," the officials told journalists at a news conference.
Led by the director general of health services, Prof.
Francis Omaswa, the officials explained that a substantial reduction in the prices of the drugs was obtained after protracted negotiations involving the health ministry, UNAIDS and the drug manufacturers.
Anti-retroviral drugs are effective in reducing the Level of HIV in the blood by stopping the multiplication of the virus that causes the incurable AIDS, thus giving an opportunity for the immune system to recover.
This eventually results in substantial improvement of The clinical signs and symptoms of the illness as well as the patient's quality of life, the director of the Joint Clinical Research Centre, Dr Peter Mugenyi said.
He clarified, however, that these anti-retroviral drugs Do not lead a definitive cure of HIV or AIDS, adding: "Prevention still remains the number one strategy for HIV/AIDS control.
" About 2.
2 million Ugandans are living with HIV or AIDS, while 800,000 of them have died of the disease since the first cases were diagnosed in the early 1980s.