Khama concerned over ART cost


    FRANCISTOWN. — Botswana’s President Ian Khama on Thursday expressed concern over the escalating cost of the anti-retroviral therapy.

    President Khama voiced his concern while addressing the media as he wrapped up the festive season at his home village of Serowe, situated some 280km north of the capital Gaborone in the central part of the diamond-rich nation.

    He expressed his wish that there will be a reduction of ART costs in 2015.

    “I am concerned by the escalating cost (of the ART),” said President Khama.

    The government of Botswana together with a number of strategic partners continue to assist HIV and Aids infected and affected citizens through treatment, care and support.

    Whilst as a nation it is committed to providing such care, support and treatment, President Khama lamented that the escalating cost is primarily due to the increasing number of people who are living with the virus.

    In 2013, Botswana’s HIV and Aids prevalence rate was 18,5 percent compared to 17,6 percent in 2008. In absolute terms the number increased from 300 000 people (living with the disease) in 2008 to 320 000 in 2013. This is despite the fact that Botswana’s population is estimated at 2,1 million people as at the 2011 national census.

    “Given the policy of universal access to free antiretroviral therapy by Botswana, the treatment cost increased from 1,232 billion pula (about 129,6 million US dollars) in 2009-10 to 1,655 billion pula (about 174,2 million dollars) in 2011-12,” said President Khama.

    He added that as a nation, Botswana has an option to reduce the treatment cost by archiving zero new infections.

    In his keynote address during the 2014 World AIDS Day commemoration exactly a month ago, he urged the citizens of Botswana to ensure that all children are born free (of HIV and Aids) and remain so throughout childhood and into adulthood.

    The number of children born HIV-positive has been significantly reduced to about 4 percent.

    This has been achieved primarily through the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT). — Xinhua/HR