Thailand Expands Access to Critical AIDS Medicine
October 3, 2005
As of October 1, the Thai government will give an additional 10,000 patients access to GPO-VIR, a locally produced generic AIDS drug. Previously, some 50,000 Thais were receiving the medicine under a quota system. Thailand's universal health care program, established in 2001, allows patients hospital visits for 30 baht (approximately 75 cents US) each, regardless of the ailment.
The government's action places Thailand ahead of other Asian countries in caring for patients with HIV/AIDS. The World Health Organization and UNAIDS' "3 by 5" goal of giving 3 million people access to affordable antiretroviral drugs by the end of this year has fallen short in Asia and Africa, according to WHO. WHO reported that coverage has increased from 50,000 people on treatment in June 2004 to nearly 155,000 patients receiving ARVs in June 2005 in Asian countries with a high incidence of HIV.
Close to 800 government hospitals will be involved with the program, according to Paul Cawthorne, country coordinator of Doctors Without Borders. He noted that hospitals in northern Thailand will have a greater burden because of more HIV cases in that region.
"We campaigned for this [GPO-VIR program] for four years. The pressure on the government has worked," said Nimit Tienudom, director of the AIDS Access Foundation advocacy group. Nimit intends to lobby the government to produce a new line of inexpensive generic ARVs that will be necessary in 3-5 years, when many people on the current GPO-VIR regimen will likely have developed drug resistance.
Inter Press Service
09.30.05; Marwaan Macan-Markar
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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.