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International News

The TB Fight Gets Harder for Zambians

October 14, 2003

As the sixth child of 13 born to a Lusaka, Zambia, family, Winstone Zulu has witnessed firsthand the grip HIV and tuberculosis have on his country: Only he and five siblings remain alive today, and his parents are raising 18 orphaned grandchildren. Crippled by a childhood bout with polio, Zulu himself contracted HIV in 1990, and nearly died of TB seven years later.

In New York last week, Zulu decried the shortage of antibiotics to treat TB, which he said cost about $10 for a course of treatment. The costs of the drugs -- and the medical support system needed to deliver them -- are generally out of reach for Zambians in need.

Three years ago, the World Health Organization and private groups mounted the global Stop TB Partnership. A key element of the campaign is the Global Drug Facility, which purchases antibiotics in bulk and distributes them to needy countries. Since March 2001, the GDF has sent $20 million worth of drugs to 46 nations, its manager Gini Arnold said in an interview.

But a funding shortfall aggravated by the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria two years ago could stymie that success. As the Global Fund collected hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, the much smaller GDF saw its donations fall.

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With the support of the Washington, D.C.-based charity Results, Zulu is rolling his wheelchair through U.S. cities to draw attention to the plight of GDF, which could disappear in six months without an infusion of $25 million to $30 million. "We cannot afford to have a GDF that collapses simply because of competing elements in the atmosphere," said Dr. Mario Raviglione, head of WHO's TB program. As Congress debates its contribution to the Global Fund, the very existence of GDR seems to be off the radar screens of politicians, said Raviglione.

Back to other news for October 14, 2003

Adapted from:
Newsday (New York, N.Y.)
10.14.03; Laurie Garrett


  
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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.
 
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