Abbott Fund’s joint effort with Baylor International Pediatric AIDS initiative will improve access to Health Care for children with HIV/AIDS.

The Abbott Fund joined representatives from the U.S. government, Baylor College of Medicine, the government of Tanzania and other partners today at a U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) news conference to announce a joint effort to improve care and treatment for children with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania. The Abbott Fund announced it is supporting the construction of the first pediatric HIV/AIDS clinic in the country, in the Mbeya region of Tanzania.

Building this clinic represents an important expansion in Abbott's commitment to improving access to care for children in the developing world during the last decade," said Catherine V. Babington, president, the Abbott Fund. "It fulfills a critical need in Tanzania, where we have been improving health systems not only for people with HIV, but also for those with other chronic health issues as well." The new clinic will bring the first pediatricians trained in the special needs of children with HIV to Mbeya.

It is estimated that there are currently more than 150,000 (UNAIDS 2008) children in Tanzania living with HIV/AIDS and in need of treatment and care. Mbeya has the second highest rate of HIV in the country, with a prevalence rate of more than 13 percent among a population of more than two million. According to the National AIDS Control Project (NACP), last year only 2,280 children were registered to receive care with half receiving antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. In contrast, almost 16,000 adults in Mbeya are on ARV therapy.

"While we are making progress in enrolling adults into HIV care and treatment, our services for children have severely lagged behind due to lack of trained physicians and other necessary resources," said Eleuter Samky, M.D., medical superintendent, Mbeya Referral Hospital. "We expect the new center of excellence to accelerate our ability to make progress against our national treatment goals for children with HIV." The NACP goal is to have children comprise 20 percent of all people on treatment in Tanzania, 88,000 children, by 2010.

The Mbeya center of excellence represents a unique partnership between the government of Tanzania, Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) and the U.S. government, supported by the Abbott Fund. The Abbott Fund is committing more than $2 million to the project, which will be run by BIPAI. The clinic will be staffed by physicians from BIPAI and the Pediatric AIDS Corps, while physicians and other health workers from the region will be trained in the special needs of caring for children with HIV. The U.S. government will provide funds for the ongoing operations of the clinic through the PEPFAR program.

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