Majority HIV-positive Mozambicans to have access to ARVs by 2015

Star Africa | May 11, 2013

Star Africa published this article about EGPAF's efforts to expand access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment through using mobile clinics in the southern regions of Mozambique.

At least 80% of Mozambicans living with HIV/AIDS, specially in the AIDSburdened provinces of Gaza and Zambezia, will have access to antiretroviral (ARVs) by 2015 through the mobile clinics initiative meant to improve a health-care system battered by the pandemic, the US-based NGO Elizabeth Glaser Paediatrics Aids Foundation (EGPAF) told APA exclusively.The foundation donated three mobile clinics, each with two technicians, two counsellors and a driver to cover the districts of Bilene, Chibuto Mandlakaze. The clinics will visit communities within these districts for two week.

EGPAF managing director, Fernando Morales, told during an interview in Xai Xai, Gaza province (south) at 200km from Maputo, that the mobile health clinics they rolled out will operate to expand services in rural areas, based on the experiences gained from similar units in the province of Gaza.

“We want to prove that this (mobile clinics) initiative is viable and it can really work, our target is to reach 80% of people who are on ARV therapy and cut the mother to child infections by at least 90 percent in 2015,” Morales said during the interview in Xai Xai.

The mobile clinics have all the medical equipment needed to provide comprehensive treatment for HIV-positive people, including the ability to test for the virus, test the number of CD4 cells in the bloodstream, deal with pre-treatment issues and implement the anti-retroviral treatments.

The clinics also seek to provide an integrated service including prenatal care, the prevention of the vertical transmission of HIV, the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, and family planning.

Mozambican Health officials say more than 16% of the 20 million people between 14 and 49 years old, generally the most economically productive, are infected with HIV, and an estimated 500 new infections occur each day.

The country’s high HIV infection rate has further squeezed its capacity to provide basic medical services, including pre-natal care.

Mozambique, still one of the world’s poorest nations, is struggling to raise the US$150 million a year it needs to rebuild its dilapidated health and education infrastructure, neglected during the 17-year post-independence civil war that ended in 1992.

Very few of those needing anti-retroviral drugs in the former Portuguese colony have access to the life-saving treatment, though there are plans to set up a factory to produce the drugs in Mozambique.