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Monday, July 21, 2008

Malawi to benefit from Clinton initiative


Malawi stands to benefit from the malaria pricing agreement former US president Bill Clinton has signed with various suppliers involved in producing and supplying anti-malaria drugs.

Clinton’s Foundation signed the pricing agreement last Thursday in an effort to stabilize anti-malaria drugs fluctuating prices and ensure more people have access to the drugs.

In 2002, Clinton established an HIV and AIDS initiative that aimed at negotiating lower prices for antiretroviral drugs and he has since expanded his focus to include malaria treatments such as artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).

When contacted for his comment yesterday Director for Preventive Health Storn Kabuluzi could not immediately confirm if Malawi was included in the initiative but was quick to point out that the initiative stands to benefit all countries that face the malaria problem

“I am not quite sure but the way they have done it, it seems all countries would benefit,” he said.

Kabuluzi said at present the anti-malaria drug is expensive such that very few people can afford to access it from private pharmacies.

“Government is providing free anti-malaria drugs but still other people would think of buying from a private pharmacy where it is selling at K3,000. How many can afford that price?” he quizzed.

Kabuluzi then said the country was ready for assistance from any partner in the fight against Malaria.

The country’s new diplomatic ally, China recently pledged to donate a K140 million worth anti-malaria drug which according to Kabuluzi is not different from LA, the anti-malaria drug that is currently in use in the country.

Malaria accounts for about 22 per cent of all hospital admissions, 26 per cent of all outpatient visits, and 28 percent of all hospital deaths.

According to Clinton, one of the factors making the price of artemisinin so volatile, unsteadily moving from $155 (approx. K21,700) to $1,100 (K154,000) per kilogram in recent years, has been the erratic shortage and excess of the artemisinin extract.

“Today the supply, as well as the demand, has led to these dramatic fluctuations in prices,” Clinton was quoted saying after signing the agreement.

United Nations (UN) special envoy on malaria and officials from other anti-malaria drug supplying companies joined Clinton for the announcement at his Foundation’s headquarters in USA.

Clinton has negotiated with six suppliers involved in producing ACTs that have agreed to certain price ceilings that the foundation says will help keep prices stable.

Worldwide, about 500 million people are affected with Malaria each year, and more than 1 million die from the infectious disease, which is spread by mosquito bites.

The disease, however, is mostly posing a big threat in the Sub-Saharan region where malaria prevalence is currently the highest.

Besides benefiting from a more stable market, the suppliers that join the Clinton effort also stand to benefit through business and marketing assistance from the foundation.

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