Abbott Laboratories

Abbott Fund, Baylor College of Medicine and the Government of Malawi to Build New Clinic for HIV-Infected Children

    Lilongwe, Malawi (ots/PRNewswire) - The Abbott Fund, Baylor College of Medicine and the Government of Malawi have announced they will partner in the establishment of Malawi's first center dedicated to providing care and treatment for children with HIV/AIDS. Construction of the new clinic on the Kamuzu Central Hospital campus in Lilongwe is to begin in April and should be completed by December 2005. The Malawi clinic is the latest addition to the rapidly growing Baylor pediatric network, which forms the largest group of clinics devoted to treating children with HIV/AIDS in the developing world.

    Due to the overwhelming impact of the AIDS pandemic, the complexity of treating HIV-infected children, and a lack of resources and specialized training, there has been little focus on pediatric HIV treatment in developing countries like Malawi. The new pediatric center, which will be staffed collaboratively by Baylor and local health professionals, is designed to help address this unmet need through a comprehensive approach to pediatric treatment and care.

    The clinic is being funded by a three-year, US$1.5 million grant for construction and ongoing operations from the Abbott Fund's Step Forward program, which to date has provided more than US$12 million in grants and donated product to Baylor initiatives aimed at advancing programs, knowledge and health professional training to address pediatric HIV/AIDS in the developing world.

    The Malawi center will be modeled after the Romanian-American Children's Center, the first stand-alone pediatric AIDS clinic in the developing world. Through an innovative approach to treatment at this pediatric center supported by the Abbott Fund, children are provided with state-of-the-art medical treatment, including antiretroviral therapy. A comprehensive program of support also is provided for children and their families, including psychosocial counseling, support groups, and awareness and prevention education. This model program has reduced pediatric AIDS mortality by more than 90 percent in four years in Constanta, Romania, the epicenter of pediatric HIV in Eastern Europe.

    "Abbott Fund and Baylor have pioneered a model in Romania that is now being successfully replicated throughout the developing world and will be instrumental to scaling up treatment and care for children with HIV," said Mark W. Kline, M.D., director, Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, Baylor College of Medicine. "With the commitment of the Government of Malawi, we're hoping to achieve similar results, and transform the delivery of care for children with HIV in Malawi."

    According to UNAIDS, Malawi has an HIV prevalence rate of more than 14 percent, and it's estimated that almost 1 million people in Malawi are living with HIV/AIDS. One in four HIV-infected children die before the age of 5 -- one of the highest death rates in the world. With more than 65 percent of the population living in poverty, the country has very limited resources to fight the disease.

    "Malawi currently does not have the capabilities to manage the growing number of HIV-infected children in our existing pediatric clinic in Lilongwe," said Peter N. Kazembe, M.D., future director of the new clinic in Malawi. "We look forward to a successful working relationship with Baylor and the Abbott Fund to help us more fully address the needs of this vulnerable population."

    In addition to the centers in Malawi and Romania supported by the Abbott Fund, Baylor operates centers in Botswana and Uganda with other donors. New clinics in Lesotho and Swaziland will be opened by December 2005. Baylor also is working with health professionals in Libya to enhance the care and treatment of HIV-infected children in Benghazi.

    "Pediatric HIV treatment in the developing world is a relatively new field, and Baylor's approach has proven to be successful," said Jeff Richardson, executive director of the Abbott Fund's Step Forward program. "Abbott continues to support the Baylor programs to help make an enduring impact in advancing the care of children with HIV/AIDS."

    About the Baylor Pediatric Centers of Excellence

    The Baylor Pediatric Centers of Excellence are an extension of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI). BIPAI was established in 1996, and is the largest university-based program worldwide dedicated to improving the health and lives of HIV-infected children. The centers, which are developed and staffed collaboratively by U.S. and local health professionals, are transforming pediatric HIV/AIDS care and treatment in the developing world. Approximately 12,000 HIV-infected children and families will receive care and treatment in the established centers by 2006. For more information, please visit http://www.bayloraids.org .

    About the Abbott Fund

    Abbott and the Abbott Fund have made a US$100 million commitment over five years to address critical HIV/AIDS issues in Africa and throughout the developing world, including expanding access to testing and treatment; preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV; modernizing health care systems and infrastructure; and providing care and support for children affected by HIV/AIDS through the Step Forward program. Step Forward addresses specific community needs in four interrelated areas: health care services and infrastructure; voluntary HIV counseling and testing; education; and basic community needs, such as clean water. For more information, please visit http://www.stepforwardforchildren.org .

    The Abbott Fund is a not-for-profit, philanthropic foundation established by Abbott (NYSE: ABT), a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including devices and diagnostics.

    Abbott's news releases and other information are available on the company's Web site at http://www.abbott.com .

      Web site: http://www.abbott.com
                      http://www.bayloraids.org
                      http://www.stepforwardforchildren.org

ots Originaltext: Abbott Laboratories
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Contact:
Julie Ferguson of Abbott, +1-847-936-6116; or Lori Williams of Baylor
College of Medicine,+1-713-798-7637; or Prateek Patnaik of Cooney
Waters Group, +1-212-886-2243, or Gracelle Gerber of Bairds South
Africa,  +27-82-829-5730, mobile



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