Kenyan President Waives AIDS Drugs Fees
June 2, 2006
In an address commemorating the 43rd anniversary of Kenya's winning self-rule from Britain, President Mwai Kibaki announced Thursday that public hospitals in his nation will no longer charge HIV/AIDS patients for antiretrovirals.
Dropping the fee, 100 shillings Kenyan ($1.40 US), will help more patients access the drugs in Kenya, where more than 60 percent of the population lives on less than $1 per day, and 1.2 million people are HIV-positive. The health ministry reports that currently only about 44,000 of the more than 200,000 Kenyans who need antiretrovirals are receiving them.
Meanwhile, however, nine health advocacy groups said AIDS patients would be harmed by a proposed amendment to Kenya's 2001 Industrial Property Act that calls for restrictions on the importation of generic drugs. The amendment would require that permission of the original patent holders be secured in order for cheaper, generic copies of drugs to be imported.
The amendment, the groups charged, would "more than triple the cost of first-line antiretroviral therapy" in the nation. "It will roll back the advances that have been made in the last four years and hand control of the market to a handful of foreign pharmaceutical manufacturers," the groups said.
The amendment has been proposed before: In 2002, similar legislation failed after lawmakers decided it was contrary to public interest.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.