The government has warned of a likely rise in the price of anti-malarials, limiting access to the drugs for treating the scourge, as funds for subsidizing the drug run out.
This was revealed yesterday by the Minister for Health and Social Welfare Dr Hussein Mwinyi when taking delivery of 500 million/- worth of Coartem anti-malarials in Dar es Salaam.
The minister said the funding of the malaria programme appeared to be under threat as donor’s funds run out.
“The affordable medicine facility for the malaria programme with green leaf mark is important in ensuring the price of malaria remains affordable,” said Dr Mwinyi.
“Unfortunately funds for this programme are running out, and we consider that a risk as prices of the drug will rise again, thus limiting access to high standard anti-malaria,” he stressed.
The minister said the impact of the depletion of funds can be devastating if countries do not consider comprehensive financial gap analysis, which will demonstrate the real needs in terms of malaria control and contemplate sustainable in-country sources of funds in years to come.
He pointed a finger at the global economic crisis saying it precipitated a series of chain reaction effects that had repercussions in terms of commitments made by international community in providing support in the fight against malaria and providing aid at large.
He called on the stakeholders in the campaign against malaria to urgently seek innovative ways to ensure continuity in the supply of quality and standard medicines.
“The private sector should also explore ways of ensuring that drugs in the private sector remain affordable and accessible,” he recommended.
He said the government continues to the medical circles to be on the alert against possible development of resistance, by making sure malaria patients are treated after correct diagnosis and ensuring that full doses are taken.
He congratulated the National Malaria Control Programme and its partners for a job well done in resource mobilisation and scaling up of malaria control activities. He said countries that significantly scaled up effective malaria control interventions witnessed the overall reduction of child mortality by 20 per cent.
The minister said, in partnership with Novartis, Vodafone, Roll Back Malaria programme, IBM and Google, the government has put in place the ‘SMS for life’ programme.
“The aim of this programme is to eliminate stock of anti malarials in health facilities,” he said adding, the pilot programme was very successful and a national rollout programme was completed in October 2011.”
“To date 5,009 facilities countrywide are able to report stock levels and ensure they remain at an acceptable level in health services centers,” he said.
For his part the Executive Vice President of Novartis Malaria Initiative Dr Linus Iggwemezie said malaria is still the most deadly disease in developing countries. “Novartis reaffirms its strong commitment to fight malaria,” he said.
It is estimated that 80,000 people die of malaria annually. The country spends about 60m USD per year in the fight against the scourge, in which the funds are used on purchasing the drugs for malaria, sprays and provision of bed nets amongst other commodities.