Friday, December 05, 2003


World AIDS Day was held on December 1, 2003, with events in many countries focused on how to expand treatment and prevention around the world.

The odds for AIDS sufferers are slowly getting better, after unconscionable delays. About three million people died of AIDS in 2002, and there were about five million new cases. In 2003, AIDS medication started to become available to many developing countries at about $300 per person per year. For the estimated 30-40 million sufferers worldwide, that means we need about $10 billion annually for the medicines, and something more for health workers and the rest of the delivery system. Several governments, notably including the U.S., Brazil, and South Africa, have pledged substantial amounts, so that we are about halfway there. There seems to be a chance of reaching the needed llevel of funding in 2004, but more effort is needed to see that it happes as quickly as possible.

The Simputer's part in helping with AIDS is enabling improved health services in villages and other poor communities through information and communications technology. Getting the medicine is the big step, but unless we can get it to the right people at the right time, we will still lose many of them.

For an excellent statement of the nature of the problem of delivering health services to the poor and what can be done about it, I recommend Tracy Kidder's recent book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, which details Dr. Paul Farmer's work on similar problems in tuberculosis treatment. This should be the model for every AIDS program worldwide, and for tackling many other health problems.

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