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UNICEF delivers first shipment of generic antiretrovirals to Brazil

© UNICEF Brazil/2007/Jayme
Fabio Santos (centre) of Brazil’s National Network of People Living with HIV receives the first shipment of the antiretroviral medication Efavirenz; beside him is UNICEF Representative in Brazil Marie-Pierre Poirier.

BRASILIA, Brazil, 5 July 2007 – UNICEF has delivered 113,800 doses of Efavirenz, a generic antiretroviral (ARV) medication, to the Brazilian Ministry of Health. The ARVs will benefit 75,000 people living with HIV in the country, including children and adolescents.

The delivery took place this week at Brasilia’s International Airport in the presence of UNICEF’s Representative in Brazil, Marie-Pierre Poirier; the Deputy Director of the National STD/AIDS Programme, Eduardo Barbosa; the UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Laurent Zessler; and two representatives of the National Network of People Living with HIV, Fabio Santos and Raimundo Lima.

Produced by the Indian laboratory Aurobindo and approved by the World Health Organization, the medication was purchased by the Brazilian Government through UNICEF and will be available for free distribution via the country’s public health network in August.

The first shipment comprises 112,600 adult doses (3.378 million pills) and 1,200 paediatric doses (108,000 pills). By January 2008, another four shipments of Efavirenz will be delivered to Brazil, totalling 13.5 million pills.

ARVs for all who need them

The delivery followed President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s announcement of the compulsory licensing of Efavirenz in May. Subsequently, at the request of the National STD/AIDS Programme of the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) purchased the ARVs.

“When we received the first request from the Ministry of Health, we offered the assistance and expertise of UNICEF Brazil and UNICEF’s Supply Division,” said Ms. Poirier. “We knew that UNICEF’s global contacts and supply network would ensure the purchase and delivery of quality medicines in a short period of time.”

The UNICEF and PAHO purchases – which will be enough to respond to the Brazilian demand for Efavirenz this year – represent savings of more than $30 million from the public budget in 2007 alone.

“UNICEF’s support is fundamental because the Brazilian Government will be able to guarantee treatment to every person who needs Efavirenz,” said Mr. Barbosa. “The rapid response to our request was very impressive.”

Teamwork and collaboration are key

UNICEF is recognized worldwide for the high volume of its purchase of medicines and vaccines. Supplies are essential to protect children from HIV/AIDS and to ensure access to treatment for children living with HIV or affected by it.

The UNICEF Supply Division, located in Copenhagen, Denmark, is responsible for the purchase of a range of ARVs and other essential medicines to treat opportunistic infections in adults and children. These help ensure that an increasing number of children and their parents living with HIV have continuous, reliable and affordable access to quality diagnostic and treatment services.

“Supply Division often receives urgent requests like this from countries throughout the world and we work closely together with country offices to ensure that much-needed supplies are delivered on time,” explained the Director of the division, Shannelle Hall. “Teamwork and collaboration are the keys to our success.”

Support for prevention and treatment

An estimated 600,000 people, more than a third of them women, are living with HIV in Brazil. Over the past few years, there has been a significant drop in the number of cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission (through pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding). But the number of cases among women, and especially afro-descendant adolescent girls, is growing faster than in other population groups.

As part of the global Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign, UNICEF Brazil supports the National STD/AIDS Programme in its HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and its purchase of medications for treatment of people living with HIV, amongst other activities.



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