Former US president Bill Clinton said his foundation had secured a deal for Zambia to access cheap HIV/AIDS drugs, thereby helping the poor southern African nation save millions of dollars.
His flagship Bill Clinton Foundation had worked out the deal with some drug manufacturers, Clinton said on Saturday as he toured a distribution centre for anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) in Zambia.
"By reducing the prices of ARV drugs by 2009, the Zambian government will be able to save about 20 million dollars. The 20 million dollars can be used to either keep more alive or improve the health care system," Clinton said.
Zambia will be able to save over 100 million dollars (72 million euros) between two and three years, he predicted.
"In 2003, no one in Zambia was receiving any ARV drugs in public hospitals... today more than 93,000 people are receiving treatment," he said after touring Medical Stores, a drug distribution centre.
"What will keep people dying is the lack of infrastructure and the distribution network," he said. "So this is a sort of thing we need to do for the rest of Africa."
A partnership between the Clinton Foundation and UNITAID, a global drugs funding initiative, has increased the number of children under life-saving treatment in Zambia by about 7,200 to 13,250, according to UNITAID.
With current levels of the disease, youngsters in Zambia face a 50 percent life-time risk of dying of AIDS in the absence of treatment, according to United Nations.
At least 34 countries have signed up as donors to the 300 million dollar UNITAID fund, which aims to help treat an additional 100,000 child HIV/AIDS victims in the world this year, and provide drugs against other major diseases.
Clinton who this week also visited South Africa and Malawi and is expected to extend his charity work to Tanzania.