Lula to Launch AIDS Drug Factory in Mozambique

by Rajashri on Oct 17 2008 1:19 PM

A project to make anti-AIDS drugs in Mozambique is being launched by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Brazil, long considered a model in the fight against AIDS, will invest 23 million dollars to build a factory to produce generic medications, the foreign ministry said.

Lula will sign the deal launching the project on Friday, with production of drugs expected to begin before the end of 2009.

He is also due to preside over the opening of an office for the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, known as Fiocruz, which is managing the project.

The factory will be built with Brazilian technology, but the raw materials to produce the drugs will come from India, a ministry spokesman told AFP.

"Brazil plans to invest 23 million US dollars (17 million euros) in four phases in the Maputo factory. About four million dollars has been earmarked for the first stage of the project, and that money will be available by the end of this year," the spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The factory will produce eight anti-retroviral drugs. Mozambican technicians will be trained by Farmanguinhos, a Fiocruz laboratory, which is attached to the Brazilian health ministry.

When the two countries signed the deal last month, Brazilian authorities said they planned for the factory to supply drugs across Africa.

According to government figures, Mozambique's HIV prevalence rate among the 16-to-49 age group is estimated at more than 16 percent.

Experts once feared that Brazil could suffer a similarly severe epidemic, but now only 0.61 percent of Brazilians in the same age bracket are infected with AIDS.

Brazil has undertaken aggressive prevention programmes and about one-third of Brazilians living with AIDS receive free treatment.