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In the news: Health

Oxfam to Global Fund: Stop malaria program

By Amy Lieberman25 October 2012

A man prepares artemisinin combination therapy treatment. Oxfam International believes that the Affordable Medicins Facility for malaria program is operating at a "risky" cost. Photo by: Novartis AG / CC BY-NC-ND

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s international Board will meet Nov. 14 and 15 to consider whether a contentious pilot program to distribute malaria medicines through local private providers who are not health workers should continue.

Oxfam International believes the Global Fund should put an end to the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria program, which subsidizes the cost of artemisinin combination therapy treatments and encourages its sale in the private sector.

In a report released Oct. 24, Oxfam said AMFm is operating at a “risky” cost, increasing the possibility of misdiagnosis and causing excessive orders of ACT treatments.

In a statement to the BBC, the Global Fund dismissed Oxfam’s claims as “simply untrue,” stressing that AMFm has made high-quality malaria medicines available to more people at significantly lower prices.

“Some Western aid groups oppose a pragmatic approach that includes any involvement of the private sector,” it said. “Before the launch of AMFm, life-saving malaria treatments cost up to 20 times as much.”

The Global Fund released the results of an independent evaluation of the program’s pilot phase early this month. The report notes that although some benchmarks were met, the level of success varied among the eight pilot areas. Further, while the program’s impact on the private for-profit sector has been a “game changer,” it had a limited influence on the public sector.

The program, launched in 2009, has been piloted in eight countries and has subsidized more than 300 million ACT treatments. Its pilot phase is set to conclude in December 2012.

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About the author

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Amy Lieberman

Amy Lieberman is a journalist based in New York. She has reported on migration, health and gender from the UN Headquarters, in addition to nine countries, including Cambodia, Colombia, Mexico and Nepal. Her work has appeared in TheAtlantic.com, The Christian Science Monitor and World Policy Journal, among a host of other news outlets. She is a Master of Arts candidate in politics and government journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.


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