New Tools for Malaria

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Yesterday afternoon, I went to a congressional briefing describing new tools that can be used in the fight against malaria, co-sponsored by the Global Health Council, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, and the Foundation for Innovative Diagnostics (FIND).

Every thirty seconds, a child dies from malaria. This leads to over one million deaths each year, including 700,000 children under five, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. While these statistics are heartbreaking, there have been significant improvements in the medicines that treat malaria. Even more encouraging, developments in science may lead to a vaccine that has the potential to prevent and ultimately eradicate the disease.

Antony Kalm, the Executive Vice-President of Corporate Development at Medicines for Malaria Venture described a partnership with Novartis to develop the first effective, affordable and child-friendly anti-malarial treatment called Coartem Dispersable.

Coartem Dispersable, which was launched in February this year, was created for children infected with malaria. Unlike other bitter-tasting malarial drugs, Coartem-D is sweet-tasting which greatly improves kids’ willingness to take the medicine. Just as important, it is cost-effective; the full treatment is just 37 cents for young children and 80 cents for older children. So far, the reaction to the medicine has been positive by children, parents and doctors alike.

Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) PATH is working to develop a malarial vaccine called RTS, S that children would take as a preventative measure. RTS, S is a developing vaccine that has the most progression yet. It will enter the third and final stage within a few months, and, if successful, could possibly be implemented by 2012. Hopefully on World Malaria Day in 2012, we will have a lot to celebrate.

-Julie Ramaccia, ONE’s Government Relations Intern

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