The William J. Clinton Foundation announced yesterday a US$10 million HIV/AIDS Initiative that will deliver much-needed anti-HIV medicine to 10,000 children in at least ten resource-limited countries, and begin to provide rural HIV/AIDS care in three African nations by the end of the year. In addition, the Clinton Foundation will work with UNICEF and others to deliver cut-price paediatric formulations of antiretrovirals to more than 60,000 children by the end of 2006.
“One in every six AIDS deaths each year is a child,” former President Clinton was quoted as saying in a Clinton Foundation press release. “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.”
Currently, between 15,000 and 25,000 children are receiving anti-HIV therapy worldwide, although children in Brazil and Thailand account for almost half of that number. Generic paediatric formulations of antiretroviral drugs can cost up to five times more than their adult equivalents. In order to make these anti-HIV drugs accessible to more children in resource-limited nations, the Clinton Foundation has persuaded Indian generic manufacturer Cipla, to lower the prices of its paediatric anti-HIV medicines by over 50%.
According to the Clinton Foundation, the first order for these reduced-priced drugs has already been placed and will reach China, the Dominican Republic, Lesotho, Rwanda and Tanzania this spring. The Clinton Foundation says that it will offer these prices to others who purchase through their programme. It is hoped that the Foundation’s US$10 million grant will be matched by national governments and international funders, so that the programme can be expanded.
The Clinton Foundation has also launched a new programme to provide HIV/AIDS care to people living in rural Africa. The HIV/AIDS Initiative has begun this program by bringing Paul Farmer and Partners In Health (PIH) to the Kibungo province in rural Rwanda in order to expand HIV/AIDS care and community health services to one of the poorest and most rural parts of the country. This will be expanded to include Mozambique and Tanzania later this year. It is hoped that this will lead to the development of a model of rural care that can be applied in the future to other African nations.
“Expanding AIDS treatment is an international priority; and as we pursue it, we must leave no one behind,” President Clinton was quoted as saying. “Access to care for children and people living in rural communities has been severely limited. Our efforts to accelerate access and treatment represent small, but crucial steps in meeting a big global responsibility.”
Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, comments that “while there has been impressive progress in treating HIV/AIDS in adults, infected children have not seen the benefits. This initiative is a great first step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done. Children should never be last on the list to get this kind of treatment, they should be among the first.”
Peter McDermott, the chief of HIV/AIDS programmes for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) told news agency AFP that the Clinton Foundation’s initiative was “groundbreaking."