220 million dollar malaria drugs initiative launched in Oslo
Oslo – Eleven mainly African countries are to be offered cheaper, more effective malaria drugs as part of a partnership between international agencies and governments, officials said Friday.
Benin, Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda are the first countries to take part of the programme – launched in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. Some 220 million dollars will be spent during the first two years to buy and distribute more effective anti-malaria drugs. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will manage the scheme.
Donors included UNITAID – an international mechanism to finance drugs against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, created by France and supported by Norway and 26 other nations – and Britain
“Controlling malaria is a key component of the global effort to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” UNITAID board chairman Philippe Douste-Blazy said.
Around nine in 10 malaria cases worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Transmitted via mosquito bites malaria is estimated to kill more than 2,000 children every day.
Speakers at the launch included Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who said in addition to costing lives, malaria also costs “developing countries billions of dollars each year in lost economic output.”
“By controlling malaria, we can improve school attendance and productivity, open new areas to business and tourism and reduce health costs,” he said.
New drugs, known as artemisinin combination therapies or ACTs, were needed since the malaria parasite has developed resistance to old drugs like chloroquine, Awa-Marie Coll-Seck, head of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, said.
In addition to new drugs, there has been success in tackling malaria by distributing mosquito bed nets in malaria-affected areas, Coll-Seck said citing Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimababwe.