Need for Africa to produce antiretrovirals locally – GAC

drugsDr Joseph Kwadzo Amuzu, Director for Policy and Planning of the Ghana AIDS Commission, on Monday said there was the need for Africa to produce Antiretrovirals (ARVs) locally in the near future.

He said African countries relied on Global Fund for importation of ARVs at a high cost and local production would help reduce cost and create employment.

Speaking at the opening of a dissemination workshop of the 2013 Consolidated Antiretroviral Guidelines in the African region, Dr Amuzu said though the few local pharmaceutical companies engaged in the manufacturing of ARVs have not met the World Health Organization’s (WHO) prequalification standards, the signs were positive.

The meeting, organized by WHO for its member states on the continent, was to discuss the revised guidelines for the use of AVs in HIV prevention and treatment.

Dr Amuzu said the Global Fund covered certain group of people, thus creating artificial shortages of ARVs and called for the need to address the situation.

He also attributed the shortages of the ARVs to the distribution systems as well as the inefficiencies in the system and appealed to governments to invest in the local production of ARVs.

“If you coordinate and put pressure on your various governments, you will get them to be committed to investing in the production of ARVs for our people”, he told participants.

Dr Patrick Kabore, WHO Country Director in Ghana, said more than 7.5 million people in Africa were receiving HIV treatment by the end of 2012 compared with 50,000 people a decade earlier adding, “despite this, there still remain huge gaps and disparities in access to ARVs in our region, particularly affecting children and marginalized population”.

He said HIV care was highly complex and rapidly evolving and  it needed frequently and timely review of guidelines for the simplicity of regimens, improved potency and barrier to resistance as well as reduction in toxicity.

He said with the new guidelines, the total number of people eligible for ART in the African region would increase from 12.4 million to 19 million.

Dr Kabore said the new guidelines could reduce an additional 3.5 million less of new HIV infections and could save an additional 3 million lives globally by 2025.

He called for strong health systems, improved procurement and supply of drugs and other commodities, integration of service related to HIV treatment as well as human resource implications of the implementation of the new guidelines.

Source: GNA

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