Malarial Campaign Controversy

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For years, a major obstacle to controlling malaria in developing countries has been the high cost of effective medications. Yet in recent years a coalition of public health agencies and organizations are targeting this problem by subsidizing the most effective medications. Called the Affordable Medicines Facility – malaria (AMFm), the project hopes to make these medications more available and affordable to hospitals, physicians, and local pharmacies in developing countries.

Workers load AFMm medications in Abuja, Nigeria (courtesy Novartis International AG)

Yet even though the project has been found to increase the supply of medications, criticisms have been raised regarding the program’s long-term benefits. A recent report by Oxfam, an international aid group, claims that although these medications are now broadly available, they are not being used appropriately to treat patients with malaria. They also claim that many patients that do need these medications, including women and children, still do not have access to them.

Another aid group, Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), claims that a project like AMFm cannot be successful if it is not carefully integrated into a larger strategy to combat malaria. Instead MSF recommends a plan whereby not only the medication but also treatment by knowledgeable providers is subsidized.

These criticisms raise important questions about the nature of complex global diseases such as malaria. Focusing efforts and resources on a particular aspect of a problem without considering the larger context may not only fail to improve the situation, but potentially make it worse.

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3 Responses to “Malarial Campaign Controversy”

  1. echien2013 Says:

    Sustainability seems to be the big topic issue especially now that we have more data on the impact of aid money to developing countries. I agree with Oxfam that the current method of getting medicines to the country may end up being more detrimental in the long-run. If the country cannot build a self-sustaining model to continue procurement and distribution of the malaria drugs when aid money runs out or when disease priorities change, then it may face stock-outs and become more conservative with how to treat patients. I’m hesitant to try and build another subsidy for provider knowledge though since subsidies are also short-term solutions that divert attention from other important issues. Perhaps a market-based solution that drives smarter use of malaria drugs will serve as a more sustainable model.

  2. Malaria Matters » Revisiting the AMFm Controversy Says:

    […] Kartchner contributes this guest blog via the SBFPHC Policy Advocacy Blog.For years, a major obstacle to controlling malaria in developing countries has been the high cost […]

  3. sbfphc Says:

    see retweet/mention at http://www.globalhealthhub.org/2013/03/10/revisiting-the-amfm-controversy/

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