So there is no shortage of important people calling for more funds and more action to roll out drugs to the nine million people in developing countries estimated to need them right now. Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, said it was an affront to humanity that there were gaps in coverage.
“We have to remember that history will judge us not by our scientific breakthroughs, but how we apply them,” he said.
There are practical difficulties in the way of getting the drugs to all who need them, but beyond the rhetoric and the big picture, there are organisations which are trying to find better ways forward. The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, for instance, which has been doing excellent work on a select group of conditions – human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and malaria – has decided to take on the needs of children with HIV. Paediatric formulations of antiretrovirals are inadequate. Children are not small adults. They don’t just need a few less tablets – they need drugs that can be given in doses suitable for their weight and may need syrups rather than pills. This is Dr Bernard Pécoul, executive director of DNDi:
“There are millions of children with HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries, but their needs are absent from the HIV research and development agenda, and this is largely because they are poor and voiceless and do not represent a lucrative market. Working with partners, we hope to help fill this terrible gap and offer improved treatment options for children with HIV/AIDS.”
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