Harvard Aids Institute And SATELLIFE Hail South Africa Drug Decision
Roye A. Bourke
Press Release: Now that pharmaceutical companies have dropped their lawsuit against the South African government, new challenges arise. SATELLIFE, in collaboration with the Harvard AIDS Institute, offers solutions.
Today's announcement that international pharmaceutical companies are dropping their court challenge against the South African government will make life-saving drugs available to the 4.7 million HIV/AIDS people with AIDS in that country. But now that the drugs are available, other problems must be addressed: How will the drugs be administered? How will physicians learn about them? How will treatment be monitored?
The Harvard AIDS Institute and SATELLIFE, an international humanitarian organization in the Boston area, are poised to deliver vital information to frontline health workers who will administer these drugs to save lives. Together, the two organizations have created the Program for Collaboration Against AIDS and Related Epidemics (ProCAARE), an electronic discussion group through which health professionals in over 60 countries exchange and access important information on the devastating disease. With nothing more than an e-mail connection, participants can pose questions, share reports on the latest research, conduct outreach, and receive current medical updates through the forum.
"ProCAARE is making it possible to amass a global body of knowledge about one of the world's gravest health problems. In my own work on AIDS, I have seen significant research collaborations launched as a result of discussions on ProCAARE," states Dr. Richard Marlink, Executive Director of the Harvard AIDS Institute, who spends much of his time in Africa administering AIDS programs.
SATELLIFE hosts other discussion groups pertinent to building knowledge networks in the fight against AIDS. Last June, in one forum called AFRO-NETS, a researcher in Kenya doing a comparative study of prenatal HIV testing in South Africa and Kenya posted a request for relevant literature. The very next day, a researcher in Belgium provided a list of nineteen pertinent articles.
"Thousands of health workers around the world rely on our forums like ProCAARE to educate themselves. When a doctor in Botswana needs to know about home-based care for an AIDS patient, he or she can turn to us," says Holly Ladd, Executive Director of SATELLIFE.
Activists this morning noted that, while making the drugs available is an important first step, it is not sufficient to combat the problem of AIDS. Physician training and information access is paramount in order to maximize the potential of the various AIDS drugs.