• Malaria experts and leaders meet to share innovative strategies in the fight against the disease
• There is a need for quality-assured antimalarial treatments in both the private and public sectors
• Half of patients in Africa buy antimalarials from the private sector(1) where wide availability of sub-standard treatment is putting patients’ lives at risk(2)
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, June 25, 2014/ — Malaria experts from countries across Africa are meeting today at the 13th annual National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) Best Practice Sharing Workshop. The gathering provides a platform to discuss and share knowledge and experiences, and to drive dialogue around improved health outcomes and access to quality antimalarial treatments for patients in Africa. For these workshops, Novartis (http://www.novartis.com) works in collaboration with the Global Fund, World Health Organization, the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network, the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, US Pharmacopeia, Populations Services International, Ifakara Health Institute, and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
“These NMCP meetings have led to groundbreaking projects such as the development of SMS for Life to improve antimalarial stock management in rural health facilities,” said Dr. Linus Igwemezie, Head of the Novartis Malaria Initiative (http://www.malaria.novartis.com). “We believe that by bringing together the best minds and leaders in the field, we can help foster new approaches that will help us ensure all patients have access to quality antimalarials and bring us closer to malaria elimination.”
The successful treatment of malaria depends on the public being informed about the risks of the disease, the importance of sleeping under insecticide treated bednets, and having access to health services including appropriate diagnostic tests and quality-assured antimalarial treatments.(3/page v) Unfortunately, in some countries bednet utilization remains a challenge;(3/page ix) while sub-standard antimalarials (3/page 9) and oral artemisinin monotherapies (3/page xii) remain available, primarily through the private sector. These treatments may contain too little or no active ingredient, thereby putting patients’ lives at risk. (4/pages 22&49)
Speaking on behalf of the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network, Dr. Ambrose Talisuna says: “It’s crucial that governments take urgent action to ensure patients are not put at risk of sub-standard treatments. We must make sure that the public is made aware of the importance of taking preventative measures as well. The ongoing role of Novartis in facilitating these workshops provides a platform for discussing these important issues, for sharing best practice in public education and for mapping the sources of poor quality antimalarials.”
NMCP Best Practice Sharing Workshops
Since the first workshop in 2006, groundbreaking projects have emerged such as the SMS for Life program to support more efficient stock management in rural health facilities. Another key advance was the development of Coartem® Dispersible, the first Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) specifically tailored to infants and children, meeting the World Health Organization requirements for a pediatric antimalarial medicine and which was developed in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture.
1. AfDB, World Bank, DHS, Dalberg, ACT Forecasting Consortium
2. Malaria Journal 2014, 13:139 – Mind the gaps – the epidemiology of poor-quality anti-malarials in the malarious world – analysis of the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network database – Patricia Tabernero123*, Facundo M Fernández4, Michael Green5, Philippe J Guerin12 and Paul N Newton1236
3. WHO World Malaria Report 2013.
4. WHO Global plan for artemisinin resistance containment (GPARC).