France’s Minister of Health and Social Protection, Philipe Douste-Blazy, along with a delegation of 12 technicians have come to Brazil to meet with Minister of Health, Humberto Costa, and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, for talks on bilateral agreements in the areas of hospital management and scientific research.
The French will present a series of proposals for cooperation agreements. One of the proposed agreements will create an international cooperation center on HIV and AIDS which will be run by Brazil, France and the UN AIDS program (Unaids).
Another agreement would establish cooperation in the production of anti-retroviral drugs in Brazil. The production would supply markets in Brazil and less developed nations; for example, the French-speaking countries of Africa.
Brazil already has AIDS assistance programs with Portuguese-speaking African countries which would probably be further expanded under the proposal.
Costa says the Brazilian government will study the proposals. He added that a positive aspect of the French idea is that the Brazilian pharmaceutical sector will get a boost.
At the moment, Brazil is producing only 20% of the anti-retroviral drugs it needs. In 1997 and 1998 the country was producing much more.
The problem is lack of stimulus for research in a very dynamic area where new medicines have to be created all the time.
Brazil stopped making new drugs and the drugs being produced became obsolete, explains Pedro Chequer, who heads the department of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS (DST/AIDS).
At the beginning of this year, a French AIDS research center warned that Brazil has to invest in new anti-retroviral drugs for domestic production or face the possibility of import difficulties in the future.
Translator: Allen Bennett