UNITAID supports new fund aimed at artemisinin extractors

The A2S2 Fund will be a safety net for growers and extractors of Artemisinin, currently the world’s most effective compound against malaria.

19 May 2009

UNITAID will support the A2S2 project to "Assure Artemisinin Supply System" with USD9.3 million over 2 years to be used as a revolving fund to support artemisinin extractors. The main implementing agency will be i+solutions with Artepal France and FSC Development Services Ltd, UK as co-implementers, and Triodos Investment Management Bank as manager of the revolving fund.

The A2S2 Fund will be a safety net for growers and extractors of Artemisinin, currently the world’s most effective compound against malaria. The compound is extracted from Artemisia annua, the sweet wormwood plant grown in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe Africa and South America.

In October 2008, at the WHO/MMV Artemisinin Forum in Guilin, China, and following extensive visits and discussions with artemisinin producers, it was predicted that there would be a significant shortfall in artemisinin supplies in 2010/11. As a consequence there would be a fall in the active pharmaceutical ingredient needed to produce the forecasted demand for artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs). This prediction was also corroborated by the Global Fund and accentuated by the novel innovative funding scheme the Affordable Medicines Facility, malaria (AMFm), whose creation is expected to further increase demand for ACTs. The predicted shortfall was thought to be largely due to the lack of contracts/orders being received by the artemisinin extractors (and hence growers) before this year’s Artemisia plantings, coupled with reduced availability of finance, and reluctance of farmers to plant Artemisia when faced with more competitive prices offered by food crops.

Malcolm Cutler, Director of FSC Development Services, UK and Project Manager of the MMV Artemisinin Programme stated, “This A2S2 “revolving loan facility” initiated by UNITAID will be an enormous support to artemisinin producers. It will not only help to increase artemisinin supplies but also provide much-needed support to growers and extractors.”

George Jagoe, EVP of Global Access at MMV, commented, "Very real concerns have emerged in the malaria community about potential shortfalls in the availability of sufficient artemisinin to meet an increasing demand for ACTs for the next three years. This decision by UNITAID comes at a critical moment and can have a positive impact in mitigating the risk of major artemisinin and API (active pharmaceutical ingredient)shortages."