Zambia Benefits From First Line HIV Treatment at an Unprecedented Low Price

Nov 30, 2015

Supply Chain coordination between key partners has helped reduce the risk of stock outs of Anti-Viral and other medicines in Zambia

Geneva - UNDP has achieved significant reductions in the price of HIV medicines that it procures, bringing down the cost of the most common treatment to an unprecedented US$100 per patient per year in Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Mali, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Through these price reductions UNDP is saving US$ 25 million that are being used to put an additional 250,000 people on life-saving HIV treatment.

UNDP currently supports the implementation of HIV grants financed by the Global Fund in 19 countries. Through these programmes, 2.2 million people living with HIV currently receive life-saving antiretroviral therapy. 

Back in 2000, HIV medicines costed over US$ 10,000 per patient per year. Within a year this prohibitive price plummeted when generic manufacturers began to offer treatment for US$ 350 per year. Since then, and thanks to healthy competition among quality-assured generic manufacturers, the price continued to fall to around US $ 150 per patient per year. These dramatic price reductions made it possible to provide HIV treatment to 15.8 million people, up from a mere 700,000 people 15 years ago.

The most recent further price reduction below US$100 per patient per year achieved by UNDP applies to the one-pill combination of three HIV medicines, known as TLE (Tenofovir, Lamivudine and Efavirenz), a regimen recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and most widely-used first-line antiretroviral therapy.

A range of actions by UNDP have led to this significant savings and important milestone: long-term agreements and improved procurement planning with countries and manufacturers; volume discounts on large, pooled orders; reductions in  transport and handling costs; increased competition between manufacturers through a broad supplier base; and essential support from partners including the Global Fund, UNICEF, and WHO.

These savings free up funds that allow countries to put more people on treatment and keep more people alive. Putting additional people on treatment contributes to curbing new infections and realizing the global goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

The value of TLE medicines procured by UNDP through long-term agreements in 2014 - 2015 reached US$ 150 million. The combination of various savings has now totaled US$ 25 million thanks to these price reductions. The savings are freeing up resources that can now buy HIV medicines for an additional 250,000 people, the equivalent of all HIV patients in the UK, Germany and France combined.

In Zambia, UNDP, as a temporary principal recipient for the Global Fund, has contributed to the expansion of the coverage of care and treatment across the country, working closely with the Ministry of Health.

Since 2011, UNDP’s involvement in programmes addressing AIDS, TB and malaria delivered between US$85 to US$90 million a year, bringing anti-retroviral medication, treated bed-nets and TB drugs into Zambia. The programmes also provide training to health professionals and the strengthening of supply chain, as well as financial management systems at both national and decentralized levels.

UNDP works towards ensuring strong and sustained capacities to manage this effort locally, and greater attention is now being paid to prevention of new infections. HIV prevalence has declined and Zambia has met the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target on prevalence, with greater access to affordable treatment.

UNDP also supported the Ministry of Health to design applications for the Global Fund new funding model leading to the signing of a US$240 million grant in January 2015 to implement HIV/TB and malaria programmes from 2015 to 2017. With this funding, Zambia will expand availability of anti-retroviral medication (ARVs) for people living with both HIV and tuberculosis from 84% in 2014 to a target of 90 percent by 2017.

Besides supporting uninterrupted supply of drugs (ART, TB, Anti-malaria) and capacity transfer, the Ministry of Health has also commended UNDP for support provided in creating a functional web-based health management information system which has enable the ministry and sub-national structures to improve quality and completion of data, and data use to inform better programming, and allocation of resources to high impact interventions.

Contact information

Moses Zangar, Jr., Communications Officer/UNDP Zambia

Email: moses.zangar@undp.org, Cell: +260 967 605747

Sarah Bel, Communication Specialist: sarah.bel@undp.org

Tel: + 41 79 934 11 17

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