22 November 2019 | Statements

Unitaid seeks to build on its successful work in malaria chemoprevention; approves measures for greater agility

Geneva – Unitaid will expand its work in malaria to include chemoprevention for infants in the first year of life, following an approval today by Unitaid’s Executive Board.

The decision clears the way for Unitaid to build on its investments in chemoprevention, which has proved very effective and affordable.

Malaria chemoprevention refers to providing medication to prevent malaria.

“Chemoprevention is a key piece of the puzzle in the fight against malaria,” said Unitaid’s Executive Director Lelio Marmora. “Adding infant malaria chemoprevention to Unitaid’s expanding malaria portfolio will not only protect millions of babies from this deadly disease but also help reignite the stalled progress in the global malaria response.” 

Infants and children are highly vulnerable to malaria because they have not yet developed protective immunity. Of the 435,000 malaria deaths in 2017, more than 60 percent occurred in children under 5.

The Board’s approval allows Unitaid to launch a call for proposals for projects on malaria chemoprevention for infants.

Unitaid is investing in two other projects involving malaria chemoprevention.

The ACCESS-SMC project (2014-2018) with partner Malaria Consortium proved that millions of paediatric malaria cases in the Sahel region of Africa could be prevented with four doses of oral medication per child during the four-month rainy season when malaria is most prevalent.

The Global Fund responded to the successful pilot by widely implementing the prevention method.  Seasonal malaria chemoprevention is now protecting small children from malaria in 12 Sahel countries. At full scale, around 18 million malaria cases could be averted, saving about 100,000 lives annually.

Unitaid’s five-year TIPTOP project, which this month reached its halfway point, has increased antimalaria coverage in pregnancy 74 percent on average across four countries. The project is gathering evidence that could lead the World Health Organization to update its policy on malaria prevention for pregnant women, which could have a far-reaching impact.

In other action on Thursday, Unitaid’s Board approved piloting a framework that would enable the organization draw on a wider pool of innovators and to benefit from the quickening pace of innovation.


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