WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- 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.
"The Mbeya center of excellence will provide the foundation for pediatric HIV treatment for the foreseeable future, helping not only to save children's lives but increase health care worker capacity in the country," said Mark W. Kline, M.D., president, Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital. "We are confident that we will see the profound improvements in children's health in Mbeya that we have seen across Africa when integrating pediatric HIV clinics into national AIDS programs." Today, the BIPAI network clinics treat more than 26,000 children, representing the largest population of treated children with HIV in the developing world.
The Tanzania center is modeled after the pioneering work conducted by BIPAI and supported by the Abbott Fund at the Romanian-American Children's Center, which opened in April of 2001 in Constanta, Romania. In this approach, children are not only provided antiretroviral medicine and other medical treatment, but are supported by a comprehensive program to address both the children's and their family's other daily needs. This program has reduced pediatric AIDS mortality by more than 90 percent in Constanta -- the epicenter of pediatric HIV in Europe.
In 2007, BIPAI opened the first pediatric HIV care clinic in Malawi, also supported by the Abbott Fund. This original clinic has now expanded to include satellite clinics in rural areas, treating nearly 2,300 children with HIV.
To date, the Abbott Fund has provided a total of more than $28 million in grants and donated products to support the treatment of children with HIV in the developing world.
About the Abbott Fund in Tanzania
Improving hospital laboratories is the latest effort in the ongoing partnership between the Abbott Fund and the Government of Tanzania, which began in 2001. To date, the Abbott Fund has invested more than $50 million to strengthen Tanzania's health system.
In 2007, the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC) honored the Abbott Fund with an Award for Business Excellence for National Action for its public-private partnership with the Government of Tanzania to fight HIV/AIDS. Key results to date include:
-- At Muhimbili National Hospital, the national teaching and reference hospital for Tanzania, the Abbott Fund built a new outpatient center that serves hundreds of patients each day and integrates HIV care with other services, and renovated, automated and computerized the central pathology laboratory;
-- Trained more than 10,000 health care workers;
-- Provided HIV counseling and testing for more than 150,000 people, and donated one million rapid HIV tests to the Tanzanian national HIV testing initiative; and
-- Helped more than 150,000 children and families by providing access to health services, education and training, and pioneering legal protection for orphans and widows affected by HIV/AIDS.
Most recently, ground was broken on the first of 23 hospital laboratories to be constructed or modernized by 2010 with the Abbott Fund support. The $10 million project will bring improved hospital services to millions of people throughout the country. In support of the significant work being conducted in Tanzania, in 2007 the Abbott Fund opened its first satellite office in Dar es Salaam.
About Abbott Global AIDS Care Programs
For more than 20 years, Abbott has made a significant contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS through the development of innovative tests and medicines. Expanding on its scientific contributions, Abbott and the Abbott Fund have invested more than $100 million in developing countries to improve the lives of people affected by HIV/AIDS through programs targeting critical areas of need, including strengthening health care systems, supporting children affected by HIV/AIDS, preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and advancing HIV testing and treatment. For more information on these programs, please visit http://www.abbottglobalcare.org.
About Abbott and the Abbott Fund
The Abbott Fund is a philanthropic foundation established by Abbott in 1951. The Abbott Fund's mission is to create healthier global communities by investing in creative ideas that promote science, expand access to health care and strengthen communities worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.abbottfund.org.
Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs more than 68,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.
Abbott's news releases and other information are available on the company's Web site at http://www.abbott.com.
CONTACT: Scott Gilmore of Abbott, +1-847-936-1192
Web site: http://www.abbott.com/