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UNITAID Invests To Increase Access To Malaria Treatment

UNITAID Invests To Increase Access To Severe Malaria Treatment

Geneva – 11 April 2014. UNITAID is dedicating 34 million USD on reducing malaria case-fatality through its project rolling out over the coming weeks to treat the severest cases. Every year thousands of children across Africa die from severe malaria. If left untreated, severe malaria leads to almost certain death within 48 hours. In 2012, malaria killed an estimated 483,000 children under-five years of age. UNITAID’s new investment in six high malaria burden countries is estimated to cut malaria case-fatality rates by more than 10%.

In health facility settings, WHO recommends injectable artesunate for severe malaria. Although this is the most effective treatment for severe malaria and it can be administered rapidly and with ease, availability and uptake has been low. It is up to three times more expensive than traditionally used quinine. According to the UNITAID 2013 Medicines Market Landscape, less than 15% of the total volume of injectable artesunate needed to treat severe malaria was procured in 2012. This new UNITAID-supported project aims to increase access to injectable artesunate by promoting and supporting its use, helping new manufacturers to enter the market by attaining WHO approval and by preventing stock-outs and reducing product price by at least 20% by mid-2016.

In cases where a health facility is not within immediate reach of a severely sick child, WHO recommends the use of fast-acting pre-referral treatment with rectal artesunate. A community health worker or a mother can administer these suppositories, thereby buying time while the child is transported to a health facility for continued treatment. Access to this product is currently limited though: no WHO-approved rectal artesunate product is currently on the market.

This UNITAID- supported market intervention is led by the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and implemented by CHAI and the Malaria Consortium initially focusing on six countreis: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda. MMV and partners aim to improve market conditions and show the feasibility of switching to injectable artesunate as well as to support manufacturers to gain WHO approval and enter the market for both injectable and rectal artesunate products.

ENDS

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