First HIV treatment centre opens in Afghanistan
21 April 2009 - People living with HIV and Aids can now receive treatment in the first anti-retroviral therapy centre in Afghanistan. The Minister of Public Health, Dr Sayed Mohammad Amin Fatimi opened the centre on Tuesday at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Kabul.
There are 556 reported HIV positive cases in Afghanistan. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the joint United Nations programme on HIV and Aids (UNAIDS) estimate that between 2,000 and 2,500 people are living with HIV in the country.
“Afghanistan has a low prevalence of HIV but we should remain vigilant,” said Dr Fatemi.
“There are many factors that could contribute to the spread of the disease, including a lack of awareness, conflict, the poor social status of women, unsafe blood transfusions and rising injecting drug use,” said Dr Fatemi.
The HIV treatment centre is technically and financially supported by WHO. The organisation has bought medicines for one-year treatment of 30 HIV-positive patients.
WHO acting representative, Dr Tahir Mir reaffirmed WHO’s commitment to work with the Ministry of Public Health for strengthening the newly opened centre and to expand these services to the regions.
Consultations were made by the Ministry of Public Health and the WHO with international groups to determine how the anti-retroviral drugs are dispensed and health care workers were trained to oversee treatment regimes.
In preparation for the opening of the centre, the WHO sent a group of 11 people from the Ministry of Public Health and the Infectious Disease Hospital for one month’s training on HIV clinical management in the Islamic Republic of Iran. One doctor from the hospital studied at HIV clinical management training centre in Belgium.
By Christina Banluta, WHO