IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

AIDS cuts life expectancy in Mozambique

AIDS has sharply reduced life expectancy in Mozambique and Zambia has declared HIV/AIDS a national emergency in a bid to start manufacturing generic  drugs.
/ Source: Reuters

AIDS has sharply reduced life expectancy in Mozambique and threatens to derail reconstruction efforts after years of civil war in the southern African country, Health Ministry officials said Friday.

Life expectancy at birth this year was estimated at 38.1 years, compared with 46.4 if AIDS was absent, and could fall to 35.9 years by 2010, the Health Ministry said in a report.

“These are figures ... that remind us of how serious we should face this fight,” Health Minister Francisco Songane told reporters after his ministry published the statistics.

“We need to act to reduce the speed of the growth of HIV/AIDS, which is a huge development challenge,” Songane said, adding AIDS threatened reconstruction efforts launched after the Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) signed a peace pact in 1992, ending a 16-year civil war.

The Health Ministry report called for “immediate and effective” action to combat AIDS in a country where 1.4 million of the country’s 18 million people -- live with AIDS.

It showed that prevalence of the HIV virus that causes AIDS jumped to 14.9 percent in the 15- to 49-year-old sexually active age group from 13.6 percent in 2002.

It was projected to reach 16.8 percent in five years and would probably stabilize around those levels, the report said.

Despite the worsening problem, Mozambique is one of the few southern African countries where prevalence is below 15 percent, activists say. In Zambia and Zimbabwe, one in every five adults carries the HIV virus or has AIDS, while prevalence in both Swaziland and Botswana is near 40 percent.

Zambia declares emergency
Separately, Zambia has declared HIV/AIDS a national emergency in a bid to start manufacturing generic AIDS drugs under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, a senior government official said Friday.

One in every five Zambians is infected with HIV or AIDS, which has orphaned more than 800,000 children and killed nearly 700,000 Zambians since the first case was reported in 1984.

Davidson Chilipamushi, the permanent secretary of commerce, trade and industry, said the government had declared HIV/AIDS an emergency from August 2004 to July 2009 to enable local firms to obtain licenses to produce cheaper AIDS generic drugs.

“The minister (of commerce, trade and industry) has signed a statutory instrument to declare an (HIV/AIDS) emergency,” Chilipamushi told Reuters.

The declaration would pave the way for the government to issue licenses to local firms to begin to manufacture generic AIDS drugs and it was already evaluating an application from local drugs manufacturing firm, Pharco Limited.

Patented western anti-retroviral drugs cost between $300 and $1,000, for a month’s dosage, in this southern African country of 10 million people, the majority of which live way below the World Bank poverty threshold of $1 per day.

Declaring HIV/AIDS an emergency is a requirement for developing countries, under a recent declaration on Trade Related Intellectual Properties Rights (TRIPS) at the WTO, to manufacture generic AIDS drugs strictly for local distribution.

“In accordance with the declaration reached at the WTO on TRIPS generic anti-retroviral drugs produced in Zambia cannot be exported,” Chilipamushi said.