Roll Back Malaria, a public-private partnership, has announced the launch of a multimillion-dollar initiative to provide affordable malaria drugs for millions of people, especially children, in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Managed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the new Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria initiative is designed to reduce the price of effective malaria drugs and drive older, ineffective drugs out of the market. In the first two years of the initiative, between $225 million and $233 million in funding for the drugs will be provided by the government of the United Kingdom and UNITAID, a partnership of twenty-seven countries, with additional support provided by other Roll Back Malaria members.
The initiative initially will serve Benin, Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda and may be expanded to more countries after two years. According to Britain's international development minister Ivan Lewis, the initiative could save up to 300,000 lives a year.
Over the past few years, effective malaria medicines called ACTs have been made available for free in public health clinics, which, combined with efforts to distribute mosquito bed nets, have led to a significant drop in malaria deaths in several African nations. However, most people in developing nations only have access to local market stalls and private pharmacies, where ACTs are ten to forty times more expensive than older drugs that have largely lost their effectiveness. Currently, only one in five patients treated for malaria has access to ACTs.
"This partnership is an important part of the global effort to control malaria worldwide," said Global Fund executive director Michel Kazatchkine. "There is no reason any child should die of malaria anymore. We have insecticide-impregnated bed nets to protect families from mosquitoes and effective drugs to treat those who do fall ill. Now we only need to ensure that all who need these things get them. This is a very wise investment in global health — and therefore in global development."