From Seattle to Botswana, partnering to fight AIDS
For nearly three years Merck & Co., the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the government of Botswana have worked together to help prevent the spread of HIV and mitigate the impact of the AIDS epidemic. The Merck Company Foundation and the Gates Foundation are each contributing $50 million; Merck is also donating its two HIV medicines.
Why Botswana? “Botswana has the highest HIV prevalence in the world,” said Jeffrey L. Sturchio, Ph.D., vice president for external affairs, Europe, Middle East & Africa at Merck. But because it also is one of the wealthiest nations in Africa, basic health care infrastructure was already in place and Botswana’s leaders were committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships has helped build health resource centers at district hospitals and trained nurses and doctors in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, Sturchio told an audience at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS in April.
“Implementing a comprehensive HIV/AIDS program like this is a complex, dynamic and time-intensive process,” Sturchio said. “It has to be done in the context of broader development policies. Mobilizing local capacity and local resources is absolutely critical. Working together it is possible to make a world of difference in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS.”