Record number of Africans get Aids drugs, says UNAids chief
A RECORD number of Africans now have access to drugs to control the HIV virus, but the continent must work harder to strengthen the lifeline, the head of UNAids says.
At the end of last year, 6.2million people in sub-Saharan Africa were taking anti-retroviral treatment, an increase of 1.1million over 2010, UNAids executive director Michel Sidibe has said.
It means that 56% of Africans in need of the drugs have access to them, he said.
The cost of the drugs has plummeted from about $15,000 (about R124,000) per head a dozen years ago to some $80 (about R660) today, and many treatments are far simpler for patients than in the past.
Sidibe - visiting Paris ahead of the July 22-27 International Aids Conference in Washington - said he was worried that African countries remained so dependent on foreign help.
"With the exception of South Africa, 80% of Africans with HIV have access to drugs via funding from outside Africa. This is not sustainable. It's even dangerous," he said.
Budget constraints in donor countries since the 2008 financial crisis have caused funding to stagnate, falling by 13% between 2009 and 2010 alone.
China now totally funds its domestic Aids programme and the figure for fellow emerging giant India is 95%, but in Africa some countries are 100% dependent on foreign help, Sidibe said.
Another problem is that Africa is 80% dependent on India for its drugs, Sidibe said.
He added he would call for an African Medicines Regulatory Agency at an Africa Union summit, taking place in Addis Ababa from July 13 to 15.