Rwanda is expected to save millions when new single-pill antiretroviral drug arrives onto the market. The new HIV drug is safer‚ more effective and cheaper.
Last week‚ Bill Gates announced at UN General Assembly the drug would be scaled up by manufacturers at a capped price of $75 dollars a year. The Gates Foundation has given a financial assurance to drug manufacturers that the volumes needed for a low price would be bought.
About 36.7 million people are living with HIV around the world. An estimated 1.1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2015.
“We are waiting for the approval of the World Health Organisation. We are not yet on the list of countries using the drug but still have to follow procedures” said Dr. Diane Gashumba Rwanda’s Minister of Health.
The backbone of the new pill is dolutegravir (DTG), a remarkably powerful and safe ARV that inhibits HIV’s integrase enzyme and has been too expensive for most developing countries.
Rwanda depends of donor funds and provides free ARVs treatment for all HIV/Aids patients, who are currently on a cocktail of over 20 approved WHO drugs.
Dr Muhayimpundu Ribakare, the Head of HIV and STI’s care and treatment unit said that the new DTG drug will have to be evaluated just like all other ARVs.
“There are many drugs on the market but we have a standard that is evaluated in every two years,” Muhayimpundu told KTPress.
As of July 2016, the Global Fund injected $30 billion into health programs globally to combat HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Through Global Fund grant and other partners, Rwanda put 175,000 HIV/AIDS patients on anti – retroviral treatment cutting down its HIV prevalence rate to three (3) percent and at least 1,832 deaths per year.
The new generic drug will be launched in South Africa, Kenya among 90 low middle income countries according to the agreement- which is in future expected to accelerate treatment rollout.
Extraordinary accomplishments of the last 16 years have inspired global confidence that a target to ending the AIDS epidemic can be achieved by 2030.
Since the first global treatment target was set in 2003, annual AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 43%. The world’s most affected region, eastern and southern Africa.
According to United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Executive Director Michel Sidibé, this agreement will improve the quality of life for millions of people living with HIV.
“This will probably change the nature of the epidemic,” Sidibé says.
This agreement, also involves the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Unitaid, Department for International Development (DFID), the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, with Mylan Laboratories Limited and Aurobindo Pharma, takes an important step toward ensuring the availability of worldwide high-quality treatment for HIV.