AIDS in Africa "Greatest Challenge" to Health; WHO to Announce Antiretroviral Drug Program by Dec. 1, Report Says
September 2, 2003
HIV/AIDS is the "greatest challenge facing us now," World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Jong-Wook Lee said yesterday at the opening of the WHO's regional committee for Africa meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, SAPA/Independent Online reports. Lee added that WHO plans to announce a comprehensive, worldwide antiretroviral treatment strategy on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2003 (SAPA/Independent Online, 9/1). Lee, speaking to representatives from the WHO African Region, which meets annually to review and set WHO public health policy for the region, said that African countries will be "major partners" in the WHO's "three by five" plan of providing antiretroviral drugs to three million people by 2005, according to Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 9/1). According to the 2002 annual report of the WHO regional director released yesterday, half of the continent's population lacks access to essential medicines, the South African Press Association reports (South African Press Association, 9/1). In addition, only 50,000 of the 4.5 million HIV-positive people in Africa who need antiretroviral therapy have access to the medicines, the report says (Graham, Agence France-Presse, 9/1). Lee welcomed a WTO agreement that will enable developing countries to import generic versions of antiretroviral drugs but said that the program will fail unless poor countries improve their health care systems, Reuters reports (Harding, Reuters, 9/1). "Based on this, we can work further, so every person who needs medicines can have access to them at an affordable price," he said (Agence France-Presse, 9/1). The report also found that only 6% of African people have access to voluntary HIV counseling, and only 1% of pregnant women have access to services to reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission (South African Press Association, 9/1).
Lack of Trained Health Workers
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2003 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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