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Novartis convenes 13th annual malaria expert panel

Jun 25, 2014

Experts from Africa discussed innovative stratigies to fight Malaria in a meeting held at the 13th annual National Malaria Control Program workshop.

Tanzania -- Malaria experts from countries across Africa are meeting today at the 13th annual National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) Best Practice Sharing Workshop. The gathering provides a platform to discuss and share knowledge and experiences, and to drive dialogue around improved health outcomes and access to quality antimalarial treatments for patients in Africa. For these workshops, Novartis  in collaboration with the Global Fund, World Health Organization, the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network, the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, US Pharmacopeia, Populations Services International, Ifakara Health Institute, and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

“These NMCP meetings have led to groundbreaking projects such as the development of SMS for Life to improve antimalarial stock management in rural health facilities,” said  Linus Igwemezie, Head of the Novartis Malaria Initiative. “We believe that by bringing together the best minds and leaders in the field, we can help foster new approaches that will help us ensure all patients have access to quality antimalarials and bring us closer to malaria elimination.

” The successful treatment of malaria depends on the public being informed about the risks of the disease, the importance of sleeping under insecticide treated bednets, and having access to health services including appropriate diagnostic tests and quality-assured antimalarial treatments.(3/page v) Unfortunately, in some countries bednet utilization remains a challenge;(3/page ix) while sub-standard antimalarials (3/page 9) and oral artemisinin monotherapies (3/page xii) remain available, primarily through the private sector. These treatments may contain too little or no active ingredient, thereby putting patients’ lives at risk. (4/pages 22&49)

Speaking on behalf of the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network, Ambrose Talisuna says: “It’s crucial that governments take urgent action to ensure patients are not put at risk of sub-standard treatments. We must make sure that the public is made aware of the importance of taking preventative measures as well. The ongoing role of Novartis in facilitating these workshops provides a platform for discussing these important issues, for sharing best practice in public education and for mapping the sources of poor quality antimalarials.”

NMCP Best Practice Sharing Workshops

Since the first workshop in 2006, groundbreaking projects have emerged such as the SMS for Life program to support more efficient stock management in rural health facilities.  Another key advance was the development of Coartem® Dispersible, the first Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) specifically tailored to infants and children, meeting the World Health Organization requirements for a pediatric antimalarial medicine and which was developed in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture.

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