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Africa's first major treatment and training centre for HIV/AIDS is scheduled to open in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, early next year, according to a press statement on Monday from the Academic Alliance for AIDS Care and Prevention in Africa.

NAIROBI, 12 June (IRIN) - The state-of-the-art centre would train medical personnel from across the
continent on the latest treatment options and bring the highest standard
of care to patients, the statement said.

At least 80 clinicians from across Africa would be trained each year,
according to Nelson Sewakambo, Dean of Medical Studies at Makerere
University, where the centre is to be located. "Our goal is to strengthen
medical infrastructure, replicate it across Africa and bring the latest
medicines to bear on treating this disease so that African doctors and
nurses can offer modern AIDS care to their patients," he added.

Dr Thomas Quinn, an American doctor involved in the Alliance, said Uganda
had been chosen for the centre because President Yoweri Museveni's
leadership on HIV/AIDS had helped make it the most successful African
country in the fight against the disease. The strain of HIV prevalent in
Uganda would also respond to the drugs used against the virus in the US,
the BBC quoted him as saying.

"This new centre is an important step for Africa as we seek to control the
AIDS pandemic and improve the quality of care," said President Museveni.
"This new approach will complement the work our own doctors are doing and
can have a positive impact across Africa."

An estimated 820,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda, and there
are some 25 million HIV-infected people on the African continent.

The new clinic, to be located at Makerere University Medical School, will
be funded by the Pfizer Foundation pharmaceutical company and operated by
the Alliance in partnership with the university, according to Monday's
press statement.

"The Academic Alliance is a ground-breaking effort because it is the first
large-scale AIDS training and treatment program aimed at improving care
for patients who typically have no resources or access to even rudimentary
medical help," said Dr Merle A Sande, co-director of the Alliance and
Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Utah, USA.

One of the goals of the clinic would be to put more patients under
treatment with anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), which are combined with
anti-fungals and other medicines that fight AIDS-related opportunistic
infections, according to Associate Dean of the Makerere School, Dr Samuel
Luboga. The centre would use diagnostic technology to monitor patients on
ARVs and determine what kind of treatments are most appropriate for
Africa, he said.

Negotiations were ongoing with companies that manufacture ARVs so that it
would have supplies on hand when the clinic opened, according to Monday's
press statement.

The Alliance was working closely with the Ugandan medical and public
health community and would actively seek assistance from the Ugandan
Minister of Health, local organisations, the staff and faculty of Makerere
University Medical School and Mulago Hospital, the national hospital of
Uganda, the statement added.


[IRIN-CEA: Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: [email protected] ]

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