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Clinics to sell affordable malaria drugs

The best malaria treatments are now within easier reach for parents of children suffering from the diseases after subsidies from charities.

In many of the world’s poorest countries, government health clinics often run out of drugs including those used to treat the disease.

This can happen so often that sometimes mothers whose children have caught malaria don't even bother going to the clinic – but instead go straight to the where they can buy cheap drugs, like quinine and chloroquine.

But the problem with these cheaper treatments is that the disease is now becoming resistant to them which mean they no longer work very well. The pharmacies don't have what children with malaria really need which is artimisinin combination therapy. And if they did, it might be hard to afford anyway.

But now the private clinics where 60 per cent of people buy their malaria treatments are going to get subsidised supplies of artimisinin . The Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has just revealed that six drug companies have signed deals to provide good quality, subsidised artimisinin in eight countries.

The price will be subsidised massively through the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria. And people shipping the medicines have promised to pass the savings down the line to make sure that the families who need them can afford the better-working treatments. At the moment, artimisinin makes up just five per cent of the malaria drugs bought in private stores. But the fund says that the older, less effective medicines need to be wiped out of use.

UNITAID, the UK government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have put in £142 million ($216m) towards the subsidy. And if two-year trial schemes in eight countries −Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania (mainland and Zanzibar) and Uganda – work well, the scheme will be rolled out in more countries.

Malaria can be a deadly disease that people catch from mosquito bites. Half of the world’s population is at risk of catching it, and the World Health Organization estimates that in 2006, there were nearly a quarter of a billion malaria infections, with nearly 900,000 deaths. The disease kills more than 2,000 children under five, per day – roughly one child every 30 seconds.

Although malaria can be cured in just a few days, if it isn’t spotted soon enough and treated properly, the disease can be fatal. It can be prevented by using mosquito nets treated with long-lasting insecticide.

Hayley attribution