More Malawian HIV/AIDS patients receive free drug

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malawi woman (c) unicef cindy andrewMalawi has managed to increase the number of HIV/AIDS-infected people receiving free life-prolonging drug to 70,000 by the end of September this year, Malawi's National Aids Commission (NAC) revealed on Thursday.

"We are set to reach this year's target of putting 80,000 infected people on free anti-retroviral drug (ARVs) by the end of December," NAC Executive Director Bizwick Mwale told journalists in the capital Lilongwe.

Mwale said the free drug was being provided in 130 government and private health facilities throughout the country.

Malawi has managed to increase the number of people receiving free ARVs from about 4,000 two years ago to 70,000 at present. Last year the country managed to have about 36,000 people with free drug.

The government attributed to its failure to reach the 50,000 target last year to shortfall of drug as the country's supplier could not provide the medication on time.

The impoverished southern African country, whose total number of infected people currently stands at about 1 million, has about 170,000 infected people who require HIV/AIDS drug.

With a population of 11.6 million, Malawi loses 80,000 people every year to HIV/AIDS and about 110,000 people catch HIV annually.

Although Malawi is set to meet its 80,000 target for 2006, the country is faced with a challenge of keeping the people who have started taking the ARVs alive. It is grappling with a 11 percent death rate among people who are receiving free ARVs especially in public hospitals.

Recently, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis, who was visiting the country, expressed concerns over Malawi's rising number of deaths among people receiving HIV/AIDS treatment.

Lewis noted that the problem was being experienced in all African countries and stressed that it must be addressed as quickly as possible.

"Malawi and other countries on the continent are lacking the capacity to determine immunity levels of those people on treatment and this is leading to increased deaths of people on treatment," he said.

Malawi, like other southern African countries, has seen its life expectancy at birth drop from about 60 years in the early 1990's to below 35 years presently mainly due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

source - Xinhua

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This page contains a single entry by ID Admin published on November 10, 2006 5:36 PM.

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