A pharmaceutical plant in Mozambique's capital of Maputo that will produce generic antiretroviral drugs cannot be the sole solution to problems associated with access to treatment, Health Minister Ivo Garrido said recently, AIM/AllAfrica.com reports. According to Garrido, the plant, which is being funded by Brazil, will alleviate the government's financial burden of purchasing the drugs but will not reduce all barriers to treatment.
Garrido said that there "are a number of steps related to procurement" of antiretrovirals, "which are removed when there is a factory in the country," adding that the "plant will ease matters for the government since, rather than having to wait for medicines and go through all the process of clearing them through customs, now the government will just collect them." However, he added that some problems associated with antiretroviral access will remain because most HIV-positive people are not aware of their status and thus do not seek treatment. Garrido said, "It would be nice and easy if the problem was just limited to the availability of" antiretrovirals, adding that if "that was the case, we would simply buy medicines and the problem would be solved." Instead, he said that "the problem is more serious and deep and is related with society. It's false to claim that people don't have access to" antiretrovirals "because the drugs are not available. The main reason is that most people are unaware that they are ill."
According to Garrido, there are no shortages of antiretrovirals in Mozambique, although he added that "eventually this could happen in the future due to the increase in the number of beneficiaries." Instead, he said that low antiretroviral coverage rates are the result of other factors, such as a shortage of medical workers and individuals' lack of knowledge about their HIV status. It is estimated that more than 300,000 people in Mozambique are in need of antiretrovirals, but less than half have access to the drugs (AIM/AllAfrica.com, 10/21).
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