Brazil will help developing countries fight AIDS

December 19, 2002

The Brazilian Minister of Health, Barjas Negri, and Director General of the Brazilian Agency of Cooperation, ambassador Marco CÚsar Meira Naslausky, signed yesterday the first 3 (three) Memoranda of Understanding of the ten countries which will receive from Brazil, during one year, anti-retroviral drugs, worth an estimated US$ 1 million. Those selected countries will develop pilot projects to treat people living with HIV/AIDS. The signing ceremony was attended by the ambassadors from El Salvador, Colombia, and Paraguay. A preliminary condition for the implementation of the Program is a formal commitment of the countries to continue treating all patients enrolled after the end of the project with Brazil.

The Memoranda was signed only with the countries with diplomatic representation in Brazil. Guyana is also part of the Program, but did not sign yesterday due to its ambassador's absence from Brasilia. Dominican Republic and Mozambique were not able to attend the ceremony due to ongoing negotiations with the respective governments over the terms of the agreement. Governments of Namibia, Burundi, Kenya and Burkina Faso did not signed it yesterday given the lack of diplomatic representation in Brazil.

Each pilot project will offer treatment and care to one hundred seropositives. On the whole, a thousand patients of those countries will receive Brazilian AIDS drugs through the "International Cooperation Program for HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Activities for Other Developing Countries", launched last July by the Ministry of Health at the International AIDS Conference, held in Barcelona - Spain.

The Program also foresees the visit of Brazilian technicians' to those countries to collaborate in the implementation of the projects as well as in the design of criteria to select patients to be assisted. Besides, people will be trained in clinical management, logistical aspects of antiretroviral drug distribution and transfer technology for the manufacture of antiretroviral drugs.

Those ten countries were selected after their proposals were submitted and approved by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Other ten proposals were analyzed, but not contemplated. The Brazilian AIDS Program expects to support ten countries per year.

The decision of the Ministry of Health to launch the International Cooperation Program takes into account the fact that AIDS affects countries most in need, with small or limited capacity to respond to AIDS epidemic. Nowadays, more than 90% of 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS are in developing countries, and only 300 thousand have free access to antiretroviral medicine. Among those, 120 thousand are Brazilian.

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