South Africa's first phase of its effort to nationally distribute antiretroviral drugs to those with HIV will probably begin by the end of this year, a senior health official said Friday. Anthony Mbewu, head of the team set up to produce a detailed plan for rolling out the drugs, said comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention between now and 2008 will cost an estimated 16 billion rand (US$2.13 billion) -- about 40 percent of the annual national health budget. "We don't envisage antiretrovirals will be immediately available for all people needing the drugs. The operational plan will prescribe a scaled-up process. Some of the facilities will start this year," said Mbewu. Aided by technical experts from the Clinton Foundation, the team has already begun its task, and Mbewu said it hopes to submit the plan to the cabinet by the September 30 deadline. The drugs will likely be purchased from a combination of local and foreign generic drug manufacturers, he said.