Unforgettable launch of MMV-MOH Uganda pilot

Unforgettable launch of MMV-MOH Uganda pilot

On 19 September 2008 the Consortium for ACT Private Sector Subsidy (CAPSS), led by the Ministry of Health Uganda and MMV, launched an initiative to provide a highly subsidized and repackaged ACT through the private sector in 4 districts in eastern Uganda. The subsidized drug will be recognized by its logo - a green leaf. This initiative will complement current distribution of effective antimalarials through the public and not-for-profit sector. The objective is to assess whether a highly subsidized ACT will have greater uptake and thus greater health impact.

The launch in Kaliro district, Uganda, was inaugurated by Ugandan Prime Minister Apollo Nsimbabi, who gave a stirring speech and voiced his full support for the programme, urging people to look out for the subsidized product, the ’ACT-with-the-leaf.’ Dr Stephen Mallinga, Uganda’s Minister of Health, also attended the launch. Around 5,000 people from Kaliro were attracted to the event by the entertainment and fun-filled programme organised for them. This included the football finals for the ACT Cup, a cycle race, a netball game, an open air concert by Uganda’s favourite music group, and a man on stilts bobbing about in the crowd. The CAPSS launch event is one that Kaliro will not easily forget!

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Malaria kills an estimated 320 people per day in Uganda, but that is about to change. In the next 2 years, a partnership between the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) will deliver the most effective and affordable malaria treatment to the rural poor who need them most

KAMPALA, September 18, 2008 - This Friday the 19th of September, The Ministry of Health and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a non-profit organization with a mission to discover, develop and deliver new anti-malarial drugs, will launch a joint initiative in partnership with the other local organizations, to deliver heavily subsidized, effective malaria medicines to the rural poor over the next two years. These subsidized medicines are artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) - a combination of artemisinin, an extremely effective antimalarial, with another antimalarial drug.

The initiative is expected to save 320 lives a day; almost 70,000 -100,000 lives a year, and an estimated annual saving per household of USh 85,000-150,000 that is the yearly cost of ACTs for the family.

The launch event scheduled to start at 10 am in Kaliro District will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister-Rt. Honourable Apollo Nsibambi. “Malaria affects all of us. But the rural poor have limited access to effective and affordable anti-malarials, yet with proper treatment it takes just three days to eliminate the malaria parasite from a sick person.. “Today, the right way to go is through partnerships like this one; this will help leverage the scarce resources and complement on the strengths of the public and private sectors”, said Hon. Stephen Mallinga, Minister for Health.

Presently, there is a renewed hope by the global community to eliminate malaria; for this there is a need for a real concerted effort: emphasizing partnerships, political commitment and momentum and significant new resources. “I am confident that with this CAPSS project, we will achieve great milestones in malaria control,” said Dr. Sam Zaramba, the Director General at the Ministry of Health in reference to the 2- year project being conducted by the Consortium for ACT Private Sector Subsidy (CAPSS).

CAPSS is a consortium led by the Ministry of Health and MMV, and comprises local partners with valuable experience in malaria prevention and treatment including the National Drug Authority, Surgipharm, Malaria Consortium, International Dispensary Association (IDA) solutions, and Population Services International (PSI).

The Executive Director of the National Referral Hospital, Dr Edward Ddumba, commended the Ministry of Health and MMV for leading this initiative. “Increasing access to prompt effective treatment for malaria requires innovative strategies such as this one,” he said. “We all stand to benefit enormously from its success.”

The District Health Officer of Kaliro, Dr. Shaban Mugerwa presides over what is arguably one of the most malaria-affected areas. He is a resident of Namwiwa sub-county where the project is to be launched. “I grew up here and I have seen the devastating effects of malaria,” he said. “The disease kills more than 320 people a day. That is the equivalent of 23 full taxis falling off a weak bridge and plunging into the river; killing everybody on board - not just today or tomorrow but every single day,” he added.

The CAPSS project will enable vulnerable communities to access malaria treatment within 24hrs. The subsidized ACTs - branded with a green leaf - will enable any sick person, or caretaker of children to go to the drug shop or clinic nearby and receive treatment at a cost similar to that of chewing gum. The project, to be implemented initially in Kaliro, Budaka, Kamuli and Pallisa, is the first phase of what will essentially develop into a nationwide programme.

“This launch is a landmark event,” said Dr Chris Hentschel, President and CEO of the MMV. “The Ministry of Health and MMV have worked together with the CAPSS partners for over a year to get the project off the ground. Their close collaboration is once again proof that partnerships can work in the fight against malaria. We are confident that the project will provide valuable insights on how to best engage the private sector in the distribution of effective and affordable ACTs.”

For further information please contact
Dr. Ambrose Talisuna

Mr. Paul Kagwa
Assistant Commissioner Health Promotion and Education,
Ministry of Health
Cell Phone: +256 77 250 7799