Zambia declares HIV/AIDS a national emergency

15 September 2004 ¦ Zambia has declared HIV/AIDS a national emergency to drive HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention scale-up efforts and to start producing generic AIDS drugs locally. The emergency will be in force from August 2004 to July 2009 and local drugs manufacturers will be allowed to produce more affordable life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.

"In view of the pandemic and the high cost of patented antiretroviral drugs, the Minister has signed a statutory instrument to declare an emergency," said the country's Permanent Secretary of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Davidson Chilipamushi.

According to the latest UNAIDS/WHO estimates, up to 1.1 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS in Zambia and 140,000 of these are in urgent need of antiretroviral therapy. In order to address this need, in the context of the global movement to increase access to antiretroviral treatment and the "3 by 5" target, the Zambian government has set a target to treat 100,000 people by the end of 2005.

"Declaring an emergency shows how Zambia - a country committed to reaching its "3 by 5" target - will facilitate the scale up of access to antiretroviral therapy. The declaration, together with the elaboration of national ART scale up plan which was recently developed with the input of partners, are crucial steps taken by Zambia in its quest to tackle HIV/AIDS head-on," said World Health Organization Representative in Zambia, Dr Stella Anyangwe.

"3 by 5" is the global target to get three million people living with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral treatment by the end of 2005.