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China : Clinton Foundation to provide free drugs to HIV/AIDS children


(AFP) 11 September 2005 **********

BEIJING - Former US president Bill Clinton’s AIDS foundation has committed to providing free anti-HIV/AIDS drugs to infected children in China, foundation officials said on Sunday.

"It hasn’t been publicly announced but it has been made known to officials in China. We’re willing to provide drugs for as many kids as needed," Aaron Pattillo, a drug procurement specialist for the Clinton Foundation, told AFP.

In June the foundation begun treating an initial 200 HIV-positive children identified by the government as being in need of the drugs.

Treatment will now be expanded to some 2,000 patients, said Jessica Haberer, a Beijing-based research advisor for the Clinton Foundation.

"We don’t know the actual number of kids who need the drugs, but we’ll treat up to 2,000 and we’re actually going to work with the government to try and identify more kids and if there are more, we will not leave them uncared for," Haberer said.

"I’m sure there are many many more kids who need the drugs."

Most of the children identified contracted HIV from their parents, many of whom were poor farmers in central China who became infected after selling blood in the 1990s. Other youngsters were infected from blood transfusions.

China, which for years ignored the plight of the infected farmers, has in recent years begun providing patients with free anti-HIV/AIDS drugs manufactured domestically. However, its pharmaceutical companies do not make drugs suitable for child victims.

China admits it has more than 840,000 HIV/AIDS patients, but international and domestic independent health organizations estimate there are many more.

The Clinton Foundation is working with Chinese health authorities to help it obtain second line anti-HIV/AIDS drugs to treat adult patients who are resistant to first line treatment.

The two foundation officials were speaking after a ceremony in Beijing hosted by Clinton to celebrate a programme set up by his foundation to train Chinese doctors in the United States so they in turn can treat HIV/AIDS patients in rural areas and train local doctors.

Clinton Sunday praised the progress made by China, but said "there’s much more to do".

One problem he highlighted was the disparity in health care services between China’s urban and rural areas.

"Most of the expertise in dealing with HIV/AIDS is found in urban areas ... but most HIV/AIDS patients are in rural areas," Clinton said.

VOIR EN LIGNE : AFP Via Khaleej Times
Publié sur OSI Bouaké le samedi 10 septembre 2005