|In Tanzania, Amazar, 11, attends a centre that offers assistance and counselling to children orphaned by AIDS and to people who are HIV-positive.|
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By Rachel Bonham Carter
NEW YORK, 11 April 2005 – Around 10,000 children in 10 countries will receive antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for HIV/AIDS treatment this year, following an announcement by former US President Bill Clinton at a news conference today. Mr. Clinton explained that the Clinton Foundation, working with a major pharmaceutical company, CIPLA, has managed to reduce the price of the paediatric medicines by more than half.
UNICEF’s Chief of HIV/AIDS programmes Peter McDermott, who spoke after Mr. Clinton, referred to the event as a “groundbreaking announcement which radically alters the landscape for children with HIV/AIDS in the developing world.”
“One in every six AIDS deaths each year is a child,” Mr. Clinton said. “Yet children represent less than one of every thirty persons getting treatment in developing countries today. These children need hope, and we know what must be done. The global community has the means to save many lives, and we must meet that responsibility as quickly as we can.”
Children’s formulations priced at up to five times those for adults
The $10 million package from the Clinton Foundation includes support for drug orders from China, the Dominican Republic, Lesotho, Rwanda and Tanzania. An additional five countries are to be added during 2005. Together with UNICEF and partners, the Foundation expects to be supporting treatment for up to 60,000 children by 2006.
Prices for paediatric formulations have been as much as five times higher than the prices of ARV drugs for adults.
Besides high drug prices, other challenges to providing treatment for children with AIDS include a lack of facilities and technologies for early diagnosis of HIV in children, poor health infrastructure and systems, shortages of trained health personnel and, in some cases, the unavailability of appropriate formulations.
Out of an estimated 2.2 million children living with HIV, between 15,000 and 25,000 are on treatment, with nearly half of the total in Brazil and Thailand. In 2004 alone, some 640,000 children under age 15 became infected, and around 510,000 children died of AIDS.
Mr. Clinton also announced the launch of a new programme to deliver HIV/AIDS care to communities in rural Africa. The scheme will be developed by Partners In Health in Rwanda and then expanded to Mozambique and Tanzania, at which point the Clinton Foundation hopes to have a successful model of rural care to export to other developing nations.