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Pediatric HIV/AIDS Clinic Opens In Mbeya, Tanzania

March 7, 2011

The doors to a specialized pediatric HIV/AIDS outpatient clinic in Tanzania opened today in Mbeya, the region with the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country. While Tanzania, home to about 1.4 million people with HIV/AIDS, has made significant strides in HIV/AIDS treatment, pediatric care continues to be a key area of need. It is estimated that there are currently 140,000 children in Tanzania living with HIV/AIDS. Only 8 percent of these children are currently receiving antiretroviral therapy (ARVs) and the Mbeya center will help in achieving the Government of Tanzania’s goal of reaching 25 percent by 2013.

The Mbeya pediatric center was established through a public-private partnership between the Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI), Texas Children’s Hospital, the Abbott Fund, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Tanzania.

Commitment to quality health care

“Our new Children’s Centre of Excellence will bring consistent specialized pediatric HIV care, treatment and prevention into the Southern Highlands Region of Tanzania,”said Michael Mizwa, chief operating officer and senior vice president of BIPAI. “The goal is for this center to serve as a catalyst for training local health care workers and expanding access to pediatric and family-centered HIV/AIDS care and treatment across the country.”

The Baylor College of Medicine-Texas Children’s Hospital-Abbott Fund Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence-Tanzania is located on the grounds of the Mbeya Referral Hospital which serves a population of over 2.4 million. HIV prevalence in Mbeya fell from a high of 13.5 percent in 2004 to 9.2 percent in 2008, but is still estimated to affect nearly one in ten adults.

“The opening of the Children’s Center of Excellence represents the most recent example of both Abbott’s longstanding commitment to expand access to quality health care in Tanzania, and our partnership with BIPAI to strengthen pediatric HIV care,” said Andy Wilson, vice president of the Abbott Fund. The Abbott Fund is the philanthropic foundation of the global health care company Abbott. To date, the Abbott Fund has provided more than $42 million in grants and donated products to BIPAI to support the treatment of children with HIV in the developing world.

The Abbott Fund committed more than $2.5 million to the project, which will be run by BIPAI and its local non-government organization affiliate the Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation-Tanzania. The clinic will be staffed almost exclusively by Tanzanian personnel, augmented by a small number of BIPAI and Texas Children’s Global Child Health pediatricians, who will assist in care and treatment, as well as building local health professional capacity through education, training and mentoring. USAID will provide funds for ongoing care and treatment operations at the center through President Obama’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Addressing daily needs

There are now nine BIPAI pediatric HIVAIDS children’s centers of excellence treating more than 90,000 children in eight countries. The Mbeya and other BIPAI Network children’s centers in Africa are modeled on pioneering work conducted by BIPAI and supported by the Abbott Fund at the Romanian-American Children’s Center, which opened in April of 2001 in Constanta, Romania. In this model, children are not only provided antiretroviral medicine and other medical treatment, but are supported by a comprehensive program to address both the children’s and their families other daily needs. This program reduced pediatric AIDS mortality by more than 90 percent in Constanta ““”“ the epicenter of pediatric HIV in Europe.

In 2006, the Abbott Fund and BIPAI also opened the Baylor College of Medicine-Abbott Fund Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence, the first pediatric HIV care clinic in Malawi, located at Kumuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe.

By 2013, the Mbeya Pediatric AIDS Center is expected to care for at least 5,000 HIV-infected and affected children and their families.

Attending today’s dedication ceremonies were Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, represented by Dr. Mohammed Gharib Bilal, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania; Dr. Hadji Mponda, Minister of Health and Social Welfare; United States Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Scott; Andy Wilson, vice president, the Abbott Fund; and Michael Mizwa, BIPAI chief operating officer and senior vice president.

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