Malawi gets $30m to fight Aids

2009-09-22 14:16

Blantyre - Malawi has received a $30m grant from the World Bank to prevent new HIV infections and accelerate roll-out of free drugs, the lender said on Tuesday.

The bank's director to Malawi, Tim Gilbo said the funds would be used to "increase access to prevention, treatment and mitigation services with a focus on behavioural change".

About 250 000 Malawians are now on free Aids drugs, while 300 new cases of HIV occur every day, resulting in 90 000 new annual infections according to official figures.

"A lot still needs to be done with the aim of slowing infection rates and bringing down the prevalence rate of HIV in Malawi," Gilbo said.

The prevalence rate in Malawi hovers around 14% of the 13 million citizens.

Southern Africa suffers most of the world's HIV cases, and Malawi needs to review its intervention programmes, Gilbo said.

New cases

The country needs "to identify and promote those programmes that are working and drop or redesign those that are not bearing any fruits", he said.

A programme offering free anti-retroviral drugs was launched five years ago, initially to 5 000 people.

The pandemic has cut life expectancy in Malawi to 36, while some 85 000 people die of Aids-related illness every year.

Unaids in June warned Malawi in the past to do more to prevent new cases in the face of 90 000 new annual infections.

"Malawi has 300 new cases every day, largely among young people and females," Unaids resident co-ordinator Desmond Johns said.

He said fighting the pandemic was "arguably the single consistent threat in overall development" for Malawi, where nearly half of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.