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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
Kenya to make Aids drugs
A Kenyan firm has followed a South African company to become the second African company to manufacture affordable life-prolonging Aids drugs.

Nairobi Aids orphans
Africa has about 12 million Aids orphans
Cosmos Pharmaceuticals says production of the generic drugs for the East African market could begin as early as next month following extensive research and development at its Nairobi facility.

Kenya, has one of the highest HIV/Aids infection rates in the world, with about 2.2 million people living with the disease.

Currently only 7, 000 receive anti-retroviral drugs at an average cost of about $40 per month per person.

The firm's director Prakash Patel told Reuters news agency that the company would produce Aids drugs under the brand names Neviriv, Lemurs, Lazidariv, Stariv and Zidocos.

"They will be economical and affordable, at least better than whatever is being imported," he said.

Last month, the World Trade Organisation [WTO] agreed to allow developing countries with no pharmaceutical industries to ignore patent rights and import cheaper generic medicines to fight scourges such as Aids.

Charity race

Meanwhile, young people from across eastern and southern Africa will meet in Nairobi on Saturday to discuss ways of combating the spread of HIV/Aids.

The meeting coincides with a women's charity race in support of the campaign against Aids.

First ladies from the region are expected to lead some 10,000 women in a 10km race in Nairobi to underline what organisers say is the important role played by African women in the care of Aids orphans.

The recommendations of the youth meeting will be presented to the 13th the International Conference on Aids and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Africa [ICASA] due to start in Nairobi on Sunday.

It is estimated that over 50% of adults and two-thirds of youths out of 30m people living with HIV/Aids in sub-Saharan Africa are female.

More than 20 million Africans have died of Aids, with 12m others orphaned by the disease.

South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare was the first African company to manufacture life-prolonging Aids drugs.

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