Sunday, September 27, 2009

World Bank gives Malawi $30m to fight Aids - Mail & Guardian

Malawi has received a $30-million grant from the World Bank to prevent new HIV infections and accelerate roll-out of free drugs, the lender said on Tuesday.

The bank's director to Malawi, Tim Gilbo, said the funds would be used to "increase access to prevention, treatment and mitigation services with a focus on behavioral change".

About 250 000 Malawians are now on free Aids drugs, while 300 new cases of HIV occur every day, resulting in 90 000 new annual infections according to official figures.

"A lot still needs to be done with the aim of slowing infection rates and bringing down the prevalence rate of HIV in Malawi," Gilbo said.

The prevalence rate in Malawi hovers around 14% of the 13-million citizens.

Southern Africa suffers most of the world's HIV cases, and Malawi needs to review its intervention programmes, Gilbo said.

The country needs "to identify and promote those programmes that are working and drop or redesign those that are not bearing any fruits", he said.

A programme offering free antiretroviral drugs was launched five years ago, initially to 5 000 people.

The pandemic has cut life expectancy in Malawi to 36, while about 85 000 people die of Aids-related illness every year.