UN urges Malawi to do more to fight Aids

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June 14 2006

Blantyre - The executive director of the United Nations Aids programme said Wednesday that Malawi's HIV infection rate was "unacceptably high" and urged the government and donors to help reverse the trend.

"Last year Malawi had nearly 100 000 new infections of HIV. That is a figure that is unacceptably high," Peter Piot told a news conference at the end of a three-day visit to Malawi to assess programmes to fight HIV and AIDS.

Piot said there was need for Malawi - where 14 percent of the country's 12 million inhabitants are infected with HIV, "to do something to slow down the HIV prevalence rates."


The top UN Aids official, who was accompanied by Britain's top official for international development Suma Chakrabarti, met President Bingu wa Mutharika, government officials and leaders of various organisations and donor agencies.

The officials were following up a visit two years ago during which they discussed with Malawian health authorities ways to step up the fight against HIV and Aids.

About 50 000 people in Malawi are receiving free anti-retroviral drugs, up from 4 000 two years ago, according to Biswick Mwale, executive director of the National Aids Commission.

Mwale said 170 000 Malawians need the free life-prolonging drugs.

"We still have a long way to go. The job is still on," he said.

Malawian authorities say they want to provide free ARVs to 80 000 by 2008.

The Global Fund against Aids, Tuberclosis and Malaria, the World Bank, the Unites States and British governments, have pumped more than 600 million dollars into fighting the pandemic in Malawi.


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