Bill Clinton announces new drive against AIDS, malaria

August 5th, 2008 - 2:17 pm ICT by ANI  

National Geographic

Washington, Aug 5 (ANI): Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has announced initiatives that he said could immediately reduce AIDS-related infant mortality and, separately, extend affordable malaria treatment.

Speaking to two West African nations, Senegal and Liberia, Clinton said that hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by AIDS and malaria will be averted with better treatment programs.

He formally announced that his humanitarian foundation had helped negotiate a 30 percent reduction in the price of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), a malaria treatment.

Under the new agreement, manufacturers of ACT have agreed to lower the price in return for the stabilization of demand.

Speaking in Monrovia to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, members of her cabinet, and the country’’s legislature, Clinton said that if manufacturers can be certain of a larger market, they could afford to reduce their margins and charge less for ACT.

“That means you will be able to provide the medication to more of your people with the money you”ve got,” National Geographic quoted Clinton, as telling the assembled representatives of Liberia’’s government.

Clinton also said that his foundation was investigating whether ACT could be made even cheaper if Liberia successfully cultivates a plant used in ACT drugs.

Clinton made his second announcement in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, where he was joined by representatives of the government of France, the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNITAID, the funding mechanism set up in 2006 by France and other countries to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The group told a meeting of health care professionals and the media that if infants diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are treated immediately after the disease has been identified, their prospects for survival quadruples.

Based on the South African trials, WHO has endorsed immediate treatment of infants that are HIV-positive.

UNITAID is funding the William J. Clinton Foundation and other organizations to set up a process to implement the new treatment regimen as fast as possible.

Clinton said that a huge number of children would live because of this decision.

“The universal right to health care is nothing if it cannot be implemented,” he said. (ANI)

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