June 24, 2009
Mozambique will open its first antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) factory by December, a project supported by the Brazilian government. "The idea is to reduce the health ministry's costs," said Francisco Luz, an official with the Brazilian embassy.
"The process is already in motion and began with the training of local technicians more than a year ago," noted Ambassador Antonio Sousa e Silva, as quoted in the state-run Noticias newspaper. "Specialists from Brazil are already traveling to Mozambique to facilitate training."
In 2003, plans to help build the ARV factory were hatched during a state visit by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Brazil has been cited as a model for HIV treatment, which it extends free to every infected patient. Mozambique has an HIV infection rate of 16 percent, but it is as high as 35 percent in the worst-hit areas. The country is also one of the world's poorest, ranking fifth from the bottom on the UN Human Development Index.
Initially, the factory will package ARVs produced in Brazil, with local production to begin about April 2010, said Luz. The project's budget is $26 million. Ultimately, the state-controlled Mozambican Medications Company will run the facility, selling ARVs directly to the country's health ministry.