Oxfam to Global Fund: Stop malaria program

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

  • Amy Lieberman

    Amy Lieberman is an award-winning journalist based in New York City. Her coverage on politics, social justice issues, development and climate change has appeared in a variety of international news outlets, including The Guardian, Slate and The Atlantic. She has reported from the U.N. Headquarters, in addition to nine countries outside of the U.S. Amy received her master of arts degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in May 2014. Last year she completed a yearlong fellowship on the oil industry and climate change and co-published her findings with a team in the Los Angeles Times.