Just before the 2009 International AIDS conference got underway, Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) released a report detailing HIV drug shortages in Africa that could threaten to unravel the fragile gains made in recent years putting patients on treatment across the developing world.
The MSF report says that “disruptions in the supply of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs and other essential medical items in at least six African countries are putting HIV patients’ lives at risk. Funding gaps and supply management problems have led to the delay, suspension, or risk of suspension of the supply of life-saving HIV drugs.”
Those findings confirm reports we have highlighted on this blog before—that the global economic crisis threatens to cause treatment interruptions for HIV patients across the developing world. This development could put millions of lives at risk and raises the prospect of increased drug-resistance.
“All around us, clinics stop enrolling patients because there are just not enough ARV supplies,” says Eric Goemaere, MSF Head of Mission in South Africa. “The waiting lists are growing by the day, risking that patient die before they start ARVs. It’s unbelievable that a relatively well-functioning ARV programme has been allowed to be crippled in the space of just a few weeks.”
Click here to read the full report or here for an AP story on the issue.
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AIDS experts are anxiously awaiting word from the White House about the selection of a new Global AIDS Coordinator. Last we heard, Dr. Eric Goosby was supposed to be tapped for the position today.
But there’s nothing official yet from the White House or the State Department. Meanwhile, swine flu is (justifiably) getting loads of press and public attention. Perhaps the White House decided to delay on Goosby until the swine flu furor passes?
Whatever the case, we hope any news about Goosby and global AIDS doesn’t get completely eclipsed. It comes amid increasing fears about the Obama administration’s commitment to global AIDS, with fresh reports emerging about White House plans to flatline PEPFAR.
That would be particularly devastating in this climate, where developing countries across the globe are increasingly unable to maintain their HIV/AIDS programs. The World Bank recently put out a report warning that the global economic downturn could cause widespread drug shortages and interrupted treatment for HIV/AIDS patients. The report says that already, 8 countries are facing shortages of antiretroviral drugs or experiencing other HIV/AIDS treatment disruptions. A total of 22 countries—from the Caribbean to Africa—expect to face such problems in the coming year.
This is a recipe for drug-resistance, the makings of a global health catastrophe.
Click here to read a Financial Times story on the report or below for the full World Bank report. You should find it under the “research” heading–it’s called “Averting A Human Crisis…”
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