Tanzania has begun manufacturing antiretrovirals (ARVs) after receiving technical assistance from Thailand. Officials claim that the drugs will be "competitively priced" and, in order to reduce possible corruption, will only be available from specialised outlets throughout the country. Currently, some 1.6mn Tanzanians are infected with HIV, while Thailand has roughly 500,000 full-blown AIDS sufferers.
The first phase of the project will involve manufacturing ARVs purely for adult use, with children being covered in the second phase. The new production facility has the capacity for drugs treating 100,000 people per month. It is hoped that monthly per patient ARV costs will be reduced to around US$25, from roughly US$800.
Thailand has also helped Tanzania secure a five-year contract to buy cheap ARV raw materials from China. As well as pursuing involvement with Brazilian producers, Tanzania began co-operating with Thailand in 2001, releasing a new anti-malaria drug. The two countries have agreed to collaborate on conditions such as tuberculosis. Leading Thai manufacturer GPO, which produces and exports around 80mn ARVs per year, is state-owned and publicly pledged to break ARV patents earlier in 2005.