… “If we cannot afford to treat people, are we going to be able to afford the carnage?” asked Peter Mugyenyi, Director of Uganda’s Joint Clinical Research Centre, in a double session on the future of universal access at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna today.
Mugyenyi, a clinician who pioneered ART provision in Africa, focused on the remarkable healthcare advances that have been made since the introduction of public treatment programmes in the developing world.
He also unpacked the arguments that have been used in the past to justify denying treatment to developing world populations. Mugyenyi stated: “The first argument was that Africa can’t do ART because the drugs require precision-timing and Africans have no watches. The second argument against treatment access was that Africa could not afford it, that even if ART was a glass of water, Africa could not afford it.”
Mugyenyi described the “groundbreaking effect” that resulted from PEPFAR and the Global Fund investments into HIV treatment programmes in Africa. He recounted how at the start of Uganda’s ART roll-out, the target was to initiate 5000 patients in the first year. Because of the flow of PEPFAR funding, the programme exceeded its treatment target and went on to initiate 28,000 patients in a single year.
Mugyenyi said that the financial support of PEPFAR and the Global Fund had “allowed Uganda and other countries to do what was described as impossible in Africa” … (full text).