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The UN-AIDS Accelerating Access initiative sought McKinsey's help in crafting a complicated plan that would dramatically increase the availability of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in Uganda, without overwhelming the nation's existing - and fragile - infrastructure.
The Accelerating Access initiative's goal, to be tested in Uganda, was to broaden the reach of the new antiretroviral (ARV) medications. The challenge was to ensure that, due to enormous demand, the expansion would not crush a health care delivery system that was functioning well, if reaching only a small portion of the HIV-positive population.
Within a few weeks, the team hammered out a detailed model to distribute ARVs to up to 50,000 Ugandans. At that time, less than 1,000 people had access to treatment. McKinsey linked four critical factors: affordability, distribution, capacity, and sustainability (or adherence), into a carefully phased plan that would allow the country's infrastructure to gradually accommodate the increased patient load.
The report was presented to the UN in September 2000. Since then, pharmaceutical prices have dropped, drug distribution has increased, health care centers have grown, and other nations have pledged participation.
This is the story of that ongoing study: a partnership among UNAIDS, major pharmaceutical companies, African governments, numerous local groups, and McKinsey & Company.