World Malaria day — 25 April
Geneva, 21 April 2011 — As one of the leading partners in the fight against malaria, UNITAID is committed to continuing efforts to scale up access to essential malaria commodities in endemic countries. To date, UNITAID has invested US$ 330 million in 32 countries, mainly in Sub-Saharan African, successfully delivering 47 million malaria treatments and 20 million protective nets.
As a result of UNITAID action, the price of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs - the best antimalarials available) has significantly dropped in some countries (i.e. from US$ 6-8 to US$ 0.50 in Kenya), and household coverage of long-lasting insecticide treated nets increased on average by 18% in eight endemic countries.
In addition to funding increased access to treatment and prevention, UNITAID intends to engage more intensively in innovative malaria commodities, such as rapid diagnostic tests, which are essential to successful treatment of malaria, a notoriously misdiagnosed disease.
Maintaining the impact on malaria achieved today heavily relies on continued support by donors, and continued efforts by partners to work in a coordinated and cost-efficient manner. For instance, the Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria (AMFm), in which UNITAID has invested US$ 130 million, brings together the United Kingdom's Department of International Development, the Global Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the governments of eight endemic countries.
The AMFm, much like other UNITAID actions in malaria, aims to increase the availability of affordable, quality-assured ACTs through market leverage. A similar market approach is adopted in a project to support artemisinin extractors in five African and Asian countries to increase production of quality artemisinin (the base product for ACTs) to meet the global demand for ACTs.
UNITAID also supports the World Health Organization's Prequalification of Medicines and Diagnostics programme to promote quality-assured treatments and stimulate local innovators and manufacturers in developing countries to enter the market.