State Launches Single Dosage Art

GOVERNMENT has launched the single dosage Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) which will help increase eligibility of children and adults to receive treatment.

Health Deputy Minister Chitalu Chilufya said during the launch of the new guidelines that about 90, 000 children in Zambia were in need of ART but only 49, 000 were receiving the treatment representing 55 per cent coverage.

“With the guidelines launched today, we anticipate a surge in eligible patients. To this effect Government has made a provision of US$ 45 million for procurement of ART this year with supplementary funding from supporting partners,” said Dr Chilufya.

The guidelines were launched during the Second National Pediatric and Adolescent Art conference held at Lusaka’s Intercontinental Hotel yesterday.

“The core approach recommended in these new guidelines is to start treatment earlier, as the evidence now shows, earlier treatment brings the dual aantage of keeping people healthier, longer and dramatically reducing the risk of transmitting the virus to others,” he said.

The deputy minister said the once-per-day combination pill was now recommended for all adults living with HIV, including those co-infected with tuberculosis, hepatitis, and other infections.

Dr Chilufya was happy that Zambia was the only country in the sub-Saharan region to make this bold decision of having universal access to ART for children of 15 years and below as part of the National ART policy. He said the guideline set high standards of care such as integrating HIV testing and counselling and care services, providing immediate CD4 testing with a rapid turn-around of results.

He said the guidelines underscored the long-term health of pregnant women and mothers living with HIV as well as those of their children.

“The guidelines also recommend that pregnant women and children under the age of 15 years start treatment immediately after diagnosis,” Dr Chilufya added.

He said with the new guidelines in place, Government’s plan to attain 80 percent coverage by 2015 remained in sight.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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