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Funding for mothers with HIV

4th August 2008

International aid organisations say they will inject US$50 million into programmes aimed at halting the mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

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The funding will be provided and administered by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN children's agency UNICEF and UNITAID over the next two years.

Around 10 million pregnant women in the Central African Republic, China, Haiti, Lesotho, Myanmar, Nigeria, Swaziland, Uganda, and Zimbabwe will be tested for HIV.

The nine targeted countries are home to around a quarter of the number of HIV-infected women giving birth annually.

UNITAID Executive Board Chair Philippe Douste-Blazy said the programme went beyond prevention, with a continuing commitment to find the most effective and appropriate medicines and diagnostic on the market for women and children.

UNICEF, meanwhile, will begin to negotiate reduced drug prices for antiretroviral treatments which would bring the treatment of pregnant women and children in line with a protocol recommended by the WHO in 2006.

The budget will also allow for the provision of a one-year course of antiretroviral treatment to HIV positive pregnant women in need, in all nine target countries.

UNICEF executive director Ann Veneman called for life-saving treatments to be extended to HIV positive mothers as quickly as possible, saying testing pregnant mothers gave better chances that they would survive HIV.

Working in close collaboration with health ministries, WHO will also provide support in monitoring and evaluating prevention-of-mother-to-child transmission programmes to meet national targets.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said her organisation was targeting women in particular because of the important role they play in the functioning of communities and in caring for and educating children.

The three agencies already run mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention programmes in eight African countries, which cover around 342,000 women.

UNITAID was founded in 2006 by Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom to finance improvements in the treatment and care of patients with HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

 

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