2 August 2021, KHARTOUM: The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Health Organization (WHO) and partners have commenced the roll-out of a new HIV treatment in Sudan, supported by the Global Fund. The new medication is part of WHO’s recommended treatment guidelines and will help the 46,000 people estimated to be living with HIV in Sudan. The rollout was initially planned for 2020, however to the due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed.
Following the adoption of the WHO treatment guidelines by the FMoH, the medication is being introduced at all 42 HIV treatment centres nationwide. The rollout has been accompanied by FMoH, UNDP, WHO and UNAIDS-supported training for healthcare staff, and improvements to individual patient monitoring.
On the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, antiretroviral (ARV) drug ‘Dolutegravir’ is recommended as the preferred treatment for all populations, based on its effectiveness, fewer side effects, high genetic barrier for resistance and improved life expectancy of the person taking it.
Planned for nationwide deployment in phases over the next three years, the first phase expects to have 45% of current antiretroviral treatment recipients transitioned to the new medication by the end of the year.
“This is a step forward in improving the lives of those living with HIV, one we are thrilled to see happen,” said Thowiba Khougli, head of the Procurement and Supply Chain Management Unit at DCD-FMOH. “This transition is thanks to the ongoing support and strong relationships with our partners – the Global Fund, UNDP, WHO and others – and our thanks go to them for the assistance in delivering a life-improving outcome to some of our most vulnerable.”
In the second, planned for 2022, enrolment is expected to reach 75% of those living with HIV, growing to 90% by 2023.
In preparation for the launch, the Ministry of Health’s Disease Control Directorate in close collaboration with WHO, undertook extensive work to adapt the treatment guidelines for Sudan’s conditions, conducting dialogues with healthcare providers, national organizations, international organizations, policymakers, and people living with HIV. Utilizing Global Fund support, UNDP supported procurement of medication into Sudan, with the Ministry providing training for medical staff with technical support from UNDP, WHO, and other partners.
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