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South African Press Association
Ethiopia signs free Aids drug deal

April 16, 2004
The Ethiopian government and United States drug giant Pfizer on Friday signed a partnership agreement to provide free medicines to people living with Aids in the Horn of Africa country, the Health Ministry said.

Under the deal, Pfizer will provide 50 000 Diflucan tablets to treat cryptococcus meningitis and esophageal candidiasis infections, common among Aids patients. The government will distribute the drugs.

An estimated three million Ethiopians are infected with the HI virus that causes Aids, according to figures for the year 2000 from the United Nations Aids agency.

"The programme will also open an opportunity to move forward and step up public-private sector partnership in response to one of the daunting public health problems in Ethiopia," said Alemayehu Seifu, a Health Ministry official.

"More than 50 000 Diflucan tables donated by Pfizer will be given for free at 16 selected public hospitals providing care and treatment to Aids patients," he added.

"Pfizer believes that partnership with governments is not only a business imperative but also a moral obligation ... we need to share our innovations with the communities we serve, every day, to make the people's lives better," said Konji Sebati, the medical director of Pfizer's philanthropy department.