- The governments of Lesotho and Swaziland have announced that new medical centres focused on caring for children with HIV/AIDS will be built in Maseru, Lesotho and Mbabane, Swaziland. The new paediatric clinics are to be funded by a Texan pharmaceutical company and will also be used for training national health care professionals to better tackle the AIDS pandemic.
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, based in Texas, USA, today said it had agreed to fund the two new clinics in Lesotho and Swaziland, which are among the countries most affected by the AIDS pandemic worldwide. The new medical centres in the capitals of the two Southern African kingdoms are "expected to be opened by December 2005," the Texan pharmaceutical company says.
The new centres are to be staffed jointly by Baylor, a US initiative to fight AIDS, and health care professionals from Lesotho, Swaziland and other Southern African countries. In addition to caring for children, the centres were expected to be used for training health care professionals and conducting research for this vulnerable population.
The centres in Maseru and Mbabane were to be modelled on a similar clinical centre operated by Baylor in Gaborone, Botswana. Opened in June of 2003, the Botswana centre currently cares for more than 1,200 HIV-infected children, one of the largest concentrations of HIV-infected children in care in any centre worldwide.
- The new centres in Lesotho and Swaziland will be linked to other paediatric AIDS centres operated by Baylor around the world, Bristol-Myers said in a statement released today. The global pharmaceutical also finances Baylor AIDS centres and other "community-based programmes targeted to women and children" with HIV in Namibia, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and Senegal.
Among the key objectives of the company's "Secure the Future" programme were said to be "to help build healthcare capacity in these countries, and develop sustainable approaches to addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis that can be replicated in other resource- limited settings."
Mark Kline of Baylor today hailed the initiative to open new centres in Lesotho and Swaziland. "Each of the new centres in southern Africa, like our other facilities, will be a comprehensive, state-of-the-art centre of excellence, with a large outpatient clinic, procedure rooms, pharmacy, laboratory, medical library, conference centre and offices," Dr Kline said.
- Nutritional, psychological, social and child-life services will be provided along with comprehensive primary and HIV/AIDS specialty care, added the Director of Baylor. He added that these medical centres "represent the core of a growing children's centre network that will cooperate and collaborate on treatment, training and research."
Also John McGoldrick, Executive Vice President of Bristol-Myers Squibb, praised the initiative in Johannesburg today, saying his company put great emphasis on addressing "areas of serious unmet medical need and expanding global access to medicines" in these poor, AIDS-affected countries. Mr McGoldrick was in Johannesburg following visits to Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, where he met with government officials and visited clinics and patients.
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