Senior officials from the United Nations and the British government will on Monday start a three- day HIV/AIDS mission to Malawi, one of the Southern African countries heavily hit by the epidemic, a UN official announced here Sunday.
Peter Piot, executive director for the UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and Suma Chakrabarti, permanent secretary of the British government's Department for International Development (DFID), would appraise the emergency human resources effort for Malawi's health sector as a model for other countries with human resource shortages when they were in the country on the east of Zambia, said Susan Muguro, communications officer for the United Nations System in Malawi.
"The mission hosted by Malawi's National AIDS Commission, DFID in Malawi and the United Nations will meet government and civil society representatives, UN and donor agencies to deliberate on issues affecting increased response to HIV and AIDS to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support," said Muguro.
Muguro said Malawi currently has more than 600 million US dollars committed by donors and the government to finance a national response to HIV/AIDS up to 2009.
The UN communications officer said "Malawi has an innovative six-year Emergency Human Resource Program costing 273 million dollars that may be a model for other countries with human resource constraints in the health sector."
Malawi's health sector has been heavily hit by brain drain of medical professionals. Scores of Malawian nurses and doctors leave their poorly paid government jobs to seek greener pastures abroad mainly in Europe and America.
Malawi, like all southern African countries, has been heavily hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and presently there are close to 1 million Malawians infected with HIV.
The government announced recently that it would put about 70, 000 infected people on free anti-retroviral by the end of 2006. The country, where close to 200,000 require anti-retroviral drugs, has managed to have about 47,000 infected people on the free life prolonging drugs by December 2005.
Malawi has seen its life expectancy at birth drop from about 60 years in the early 1990s to below 35 years presently due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.