Working Globally for Access to Effective Malaria Treatment

This story is part one of a three-part series written in commemoration of Africa Malaria Day 2006. This year's Africa Malaria Day theme is "Get your ACT Together" - referring to ACT (artemisinin-based combination therapy), the most, and sometimes only effective treatment for malaria.

ACTs are a cornerstone of case management, one of the three-prongs of global malaria control. The article below presents highlights from the extensive work MSH's Center for Pharmaceutical Management does to promote and provide ACTs.

In an effort to combat increasingly drug-resistant strains of malaria, the WHO recommends that ACTs be the treatment of choice in countries with significant rates of resistance to traditionally effective drugs like chloroquine. For a country, the transition to ACTs poses formidable challenges at every level, from national drug policies to educating family care givers. MSH helps to address these challenges through the USAID-funded Rational Pharmaceutical Management Plus (RPM Plus) program.

RPM Plus is focused not only on providing access to medicines like ACTs, but also establishing and strengthening the complex systems required to deliver a wide variety of life-saving drugs and goods (for example, insecticide-treated nets which help prevent malaria infection). Additionally, the application of RPM Plus tools and training programs can help to strengthen a country's local capacity to make appropriate medicines and commodities available and accessible. RPM Plus collaborates with international and country-level partners throughout the world.

In malaria-endemic countries RPM Plus channels its technical assistance through three major areas:

  1. Supporting ACT Policy Design and Implementation

    RPM Plus helps countries that are taking steps to change their first-line treatment to ACT—from the evaluation and planning stage to the roll-out of the new policy.
     
  2. Improving Procurement of Malaria Medicines and Commodities

    RPM Plus has expertise in quantifying medicine and commodity needs which support programs at all levels of the health system. The program also provides quantification and procurement expertise to grant applicants and recipients of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
     
  3. Developing Local Capacity for Pharmaceutical Management

    RPM Plus helps malaria-endemic countries develop local capacity to manage antimalarial medicines and commodities. The program's focus is on training staff of national malaria programs and health systems to assess, manage, and monitor drug supply systems in both public and private sectors.