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Deal To Make Cheap Aids Drugs Available

Unicef And Partners Announce Deal To Make Cheap Aids Drugs Available

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank, the Global Fund and the Clinton Foundation today unveiled agreements that will allow dozens of developing nations to buy high-quality AIDS medicines and diagnostic tests at the cheapest possible prices.

The deal - which means many countries will pay less than half of what they currently pay for anti-AIDS drugs - effectively expands the Clinton Foundation programme that has been available to 16 Caribbean and African countries since October.

In a statement issued today, UNICEF said governments would now have access to lower prices negotiated recently by the Clinton Foundation, a United States-based non-governmental organization (NGO), with five manufacturers of anti-retroviral medicines and five makers of HIV/AIDS diagnostic tests.

The drugs involved include formulations or are part of combinations approved by the World Health Organization for their quality and effectiveness. UNICEF, the World Bank and the Global Fund only give support to medicines that meet this standard.

The countries will have to provide guarantees of payment, ensure that drug distribution is secure and conduct long-term tender processes to benefit from the agreement. As part of their existing work, UNICEF, the World Bank and the Global Fund will help countries meet those criteria.

UNICEF's Executive Director Carol Bellamy said the initiative will save lives and offer hope to millions of children and families around the world.

"This new partnership works to break down some of the barriers - such as price, supply and demand - that are impeding access to life-saving AIDS medicines and diagnostics in developing countries," she said.

Former US President Bill Clinton said he is grateful for the "collective effort" to strike an agreement on cheaper medicines and diagnostic tests. "With these agreements, we are one step closer to making sure future generations can live without the scourge of AIDS," he said.

The Global Fund, a public-private partnership dedicated to fighting AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, has contributed more than 60 per cent of $2.1 billion allocated to 122 countries over the next two years to help them tackle the AIDS pandemic, while the World Bank has committed to giving $1.6 billion in a separate initiative. Last year UNICEF spent $111 million on the issue.

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