January 31, 2012

PATHS2, partners set path to cheap antimalarial drugs in Lagos, 4 others



THE dream of access to cheap anti-malaria drugs in Nigeria is about to come true at long last.  This development is being facilitated by the Partnership for Transforming Health Systems, PATHS2, a United Kingdom Department for International Development, DFID funded project.

The initiative to provide improvement in the treatment of malaria at reduced costs is being undertaken  in collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative,CHAI, the Federal Ministry of Health and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in the country, through the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria, AMFm, initiative.

The AMFm is an innovative financing mechanism to expand access to affordable   Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies, ACTs – which are medicines recommended by the Federal Ministry of Health  effective malaria treatment of uncomplicated malaria.

Under this partnership, ACTs  will be made available  to health facilities particularly in the rural communities of Lagos, Kaduna, Jigawa, Enugu and Kano States, which are the PATHS2-supported States, for as little as N60.00 a dose. Currently, ACTs cost N800.00-N2,000.00 depending on the brand and combination therapy.

Last week, at a forum between key  first line buyers of antimalarials, CHAI and PATHS2 supported states,National Programme Manager, PATHS2, Mr. Mike Egboh, told Good Health Weekly that the first step towards ensuring access of drugs to the poor is to reduce the cost.

He said: “The need for partnership is key. The strategy is to work with the private sector. What we are doing here today is getting the First Line buyers which are pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria who buy directly from WHO certified manufacturers outside the country, purchase at reduced rates so that the drugs get to the people at a reduced rate of less than N100.”

Egboh said the First Line buyer, supported under AMFm, will sell Artemisinin/ Lumefantrin (pack of 24) for just N50.00 to PATHS2 States health facilities and patients will get it for about N60.00 which is a significant reduction in the price.

“This pricing makes it the cheapest price available for a pack of 24 of Artemisinin/ Lumefantrin throughout the country. People at the rural areas are not able to afford it but with PATHS2 support through the AMFm initiative, patients will be able to access the anti-malaria drugs at affordable price and also the products are of best quality as this is coming from WHO prequalified manufacturers.”

This development, he argued, is expected to have a significant long term positive impact on health care service delivery as it will strengthen the treatment of malaria and save lives of patients particularly in the rural area where antimalarial drugs will be available and far cheaper than anywhere else in Nigeria, ultimately contributing to the reduction of maternal and infant mortality.

ACTs were introduced in Nigeria in 2005 for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria due to the increased resistance to chloroquine and Sulphadoxine-Pyrimethamine, SP, which were the older malaria medicines.

Malaria is Nigeria’s number one  disease concern  with an estimated death toll of 300,000 children each year.

Data from the NDHS 2008 shows that  annually, half the Nigerian population has at least one episode of malaria, while children aged less than 5 years have two to four attacks.