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ICASA: A Call To Buy Anti-Retrovirals In Bulk - 2003-09-23


A non-profit organization is calling on African governments to pool their resources to buy anti-retroviral drugs, ARVS. Making the call at the 13th International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa, ICASA, the organization says buying the drugs in bulk would save money. Michael Gabra of Management Sciences for Health says governments can harmonize and standardize their HIV/Aids treatment methods. The group's project manager for Africa says this could also lead to standardizing procurement procedures to ease the flow of drugs from the suppliers to those in need.

He says, "You have to make sure that the legal framework is appropriate. You need to have mechanisms of how to pay. Central Bank may be a possibility of getting a supplier agreeing on how to pay them. Because once you have the confidence of the suppliers, you probably can have a better relationship with suppliers and get the prices down. I think that's one way to do it. Its not the only way to do it."

The zambia representative for Management Sciences for Health, Oliver Hazeemba, says countries such as Zambia would benefit greatly from consolidating their resources to buy drugs in bulk.

He says, "With the 10,000 people that they want to treat, it's a lot of money which is involved and considering that 16% Zambians are infected, there's more money that is required. If there's a way we can reduce the cost of the ARVS and make them more accessible, I think its an opportunity that the Zambian government should seize."

The reduction in the price of ARVS is one of the issues being discussed at the on-going International conference on Aids and STI's in Africa. The issue is discussed in the context of the theme of the conference which is access to treatment and what are the challenges. With scientists saying they do not know when an AIDS vaccine will be found, health activists say broader treatment programs are urgently needed.