05 December 2012
SADC Pooled Procurement Strategy for Essential Medicines and Health Commodities
By Aarti Patel
In November 2012, at the Joint SADC Ministers of Health and HIV and Aids meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, the draft SADC Strategy for Pooled Procurement of Essential Medicines and Health Commodities was approved. This comes as wonderful news for the region which has had Pooled Procurement on its agenda for many years. The process of formulating the Strategy for Pooled Procurement of Essential Medicines and Health Commodities (PP Strategy) was guided by a participatory approach through which extensive consultations took place with stakeholders in all SADC Member States.
The 2012 Access to Medicines Index
The latest Access to Medicine Index, which ranks the top 20 pharmaceutical companies on their efforts to improve access to medicine in developing countries, finds that the industry is doing more than it was two years ago, with GlaxoSmithKline still outperforming its peers, but an expanding group of leaders closing the gap. The Index found that Johnson & Johnson was one of the most dramatic risers, climbing from the middle of the field in 9th position in the 2010 Index to 2nd this year, closely behind GlaxoSmithKline.
Leading international child health agencies join forces to increase access to the most effective antibiotic treatment for children with pneumonia
Leading child health agencies have joined forces to announce plans to work together on an unprecedented scale to increase access to amoxicillin in dispersible tablet form – the recommended antibiotic treatment for children under five suffering from pneumonia. In 2011, a staggering 1.3 million children died from pneumonia, making it the leading killer of children under five. Despite the existence of low-cost and highly effective antibiotics, less than one third of children with suspected pneumonia use antibiotics and a tiny minority receive amoxicillin in the ideal form for small children – a tablet that dissolves in liquid.
HIV: Search for safe contraception receives a boost
The Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) project funds individuals worldwide who are taking innovative approaches to some of the world’s toughest and persistent global health and development challenges. GCE invests in the early stages of bold ideas that have real potential to solve the problems people in the developing world face every day. Hapgood’s project is one of more than 80 GCE Round 9 grants announced on this month by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. HIV prevalence in young women of childbearing age is very high in sub-Saharan Africa…
UNAIDS reports a more than 50% drop in new HIV infections across 25 countries
A new World AIDS Day report: Results, by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), shows that unprecedented acceleration in the AIDS response is producing results for people. The report shows that a more than 50% reduction in the rate of new HIV infections has been achieved across 25 low- and middle-income countries––more than half in Africa, the region most affected by HIV. In some of the countries which have the highest HIV prevalence in the world, rates of new HIV infections have been cut dramatically since 2001; by 73% in Malawi, 71% in Botswana, 68% in Namibia, 58% in Zambia, 50% in Zimbabwe and 41% in South Africa and Swaziland.
South Africa to introduce three-in-one AIDS pill
From April 2013 South African HIV patients are to get a three-in-one pill, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced in Pretoria earlier on Thursday as he released details of the government’s latest two-year AIDS drugs tender, valued at R5.9bn. The tender includes awards for combined medication and single-drug pills. The combined pill is expected to reduce the likelihood of patients skipping doses, and save the state time and money in distributing the medication. Most patients currently take three pills a day. The new pill combines tenofovir, emtricitabine and efavirenz, and will cost R89.37 per patient per month, making it the lowest price worldwide, according to the minister.
07 November 2012
An introduction to impact investing
By Oliver Withers
Over the last quarter the SARPAM Market Innovations team has been actively engaging potential stakeholders in the Africa Medicines Impact Investment Fund (AMIIF). These potential stakeholders include potential investors, financial supporters of AMIIF, as well as investment pipeline sources or capacity development providers. AMIIF is an impact investment fund that seeks to achieve the social impact of increasing access to medicines in sub-Saharan Africa, through private sector development whilst still producing a financial return to investors.
SARPAM hosts successful training workshop in Mozambique
By Daniel Molokele
The Civil Society component of SARPAM has received a shot in the arm in its ongoing rollout of the Tendai Project, with the successful hosting of a special re-orientation workshop for the Mozambican community monitors in Maputo. The event was held between the 26th and 28th of September 2012. Daniel Molokele, the Civil Society Co-ordinator, was the main facilitator of the training workshop. In this regard, active support was also provided by Cesar Mufanequico and Alzira Nguenha from the local partner for the Tendai Project, the Mozambique Treatment Access Movement (MATRAM).
Beginnings of the SADC Professional Pharmaceutical Association
By Aarti Patel
Increasing access to essential medicines is a key priority of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) regional integration agenda. This is the goal behind the SADC Pharmaceutical Business Plan. Achieving the goal requires commitment and support from everyone: Government, Civil Society and the Private Sector. Across SADC, most Member States have National Pharmaceutical Societies that work with the Regulatory Authorities, Ministries of Health and Academia to provide the leadership, oversight, governance and general know-how towards ensuring that the pharmaceutical sector is properly resourced, managed and monitored so that we can progress towards our goal of increased access to essential medicines.
SARPAM hosts Tendai training workshop in Zimbabwe
By Daniel Molokele
SARPAM’s Civil Society team recently held a training workshop in Zimbabwe at the Selborne Hotel, in Bulawayo between the 1st and 2nd of October 2012. The workshop was hosted by SARPAM in partnership with its local partner, the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH). The workshop targeted the community monitors under the Tendai Project located in Zimbabwe. 17 Trainees were drawn from six different districts from six different provinces across Zimbabwe. The six districts are Bulawayo, Tsholotsho, Chikwaka, Zhombe, Chinhoyi and Bindura.
Tanzania: Malaria down by 44% amongst under-fives
Malaria prevalence in children in Tanzania under the age of five has fallen by 44% since 2007, as shown in the preliminary results of the 2011-2012 Tanzania HIV/Aids and Malaria Indicator Survey (THMIS) released on the 11th of October. Health and Social Welfare Minister, Dr Hussein Mwinyi said in Dar es Salaam during the launch of the results, that the drop was a big milestone in the country’s efforts to combat malaria.
Zambia: Women and child mortality to reduce
The mortality rate of women and children from vaccine-preventable diseases in Zambia will reduce with the commissioning of the state-of-the-art national vaccine cold storage in Lusaka. The National Vaccine Cold Store, which has been rated as the best in the southern African region, and with a 200,000-litre capacity, would store immunisation vaccines such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, and newly introduced vaccines including pneumococcal conjugate, rotavirus and measles second dose.
“Responsible” medicines use can save $500B/year globally: report
Half a trillion dollars a year in global health spending can be avoided if health system stakeholders use medicines more responsibly and align their capabilities, resources and activities more strongly, according to a new report. The health spending which can be avoided in this way amounts to 8% of total annual health expenditures worldwide, and more than half of this can be gained through improved patient adherence, according to the report.
South Africa: Revamped Aids council makes its debut
After a troubled past, a revamped South African National Aids Council (SANAC) was recently unveiled, co-inciding with the announcement that the country has achieved universal access to HIV treatment. South Africa must now ramp-up prevention, new SANAC CEO Fareed Abdullah said. The newly reformed body is now undergoing a wide range of initiatives to improve its effectiveness and the country’s HIV prevention efforts, including increasing national funding for prevention activities, re-invigorating provincial Aids councils and broadening representation within the body’s leadership.
South Africa: Life expectancy rises as HIV plans kick in
The government has made much better progress in improving life expectancy and reducing deaths among young children than it had hoped, largely due to the rapid expansion of its HIV-treatment programmes, a new report from the Medical Research Council shows. Detailed targets for improving the health of the nation are spelt out in a five-year service delivery agreement signed by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and the president.
02 October 2012
Civil Society successfully conducts advocacy workshops
By Daniel Molokele
Over the past month, SARPAM’s Civil Society team has been conducting a series of training workshops targeting the community monitors under the Tendai Project. The strategy for the training workshops focused on two key aspects. Firstly, the workshop focused on reviewing the monitors’ skills, in terms of their use of the Tendai Project mobile client application, which is the technological basis of the data collection process. Secondly, the workshop focused on empowering the monitors with campaigning, advocacy and lobbying skills.
Towards a new tuberculosis drug: pyridomycin – nature’s isoniazid
Even today, infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis accounts for up to two million deaths annually. The effectiveness of current anti-tuberculosis drugs to combat these infections is increasingly compromised by the escalating prevalence of multi- and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. For these cases, the most effective anti-tubercular compounds such as isoniazid and rifampicin are no longer effective and this can result in mortality rates approaching 100% for patients with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Feasibility of using teleradiology to improve tuberculosis screening and case management in a district hospital in Malawi
Approximately 600 000 people inhabit Thyolo district in southern Malawi. Most are subsistence-level or migrant farmers who live in extreme poverty and have very little formal education. Thyolo district has one public hospital and 38 primary health centres. Although Malawi’s public health-care facilities provide care free of charge, staffing levels, particularly for higher-level clinical cadres, remain exceptionally low. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been supporting Thyolo District Hospital and other health-care facilities in the surrounding area since 1997 with a focus on the care of patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and tuberculosis.
Going Local: Community health workers at the forefront of Zambia’s malaria fight
Even on paper, the task is daunting – going to remote places in Zambia where malaria affects people the most and testing every man, woman, and child for the disease. The goal of this effort is to find and treat all those carrying the malaria parasite before the rains begin in December, signaling the start of another transmission season. Testing entire villages is an enormous logistical challenge, but because a significant number of people infected with malaria do not know they carry the disease or show any symptoms, this mass “test and treat” approach is critical to clearing pockets of persistent infection in the country and reducing malaria illnesses and deaths.
World Contraception Day: Girls in South Africa speak
The basic human rights of women regarding their health, bodies and sexuality are under threat, and have been called into question during recent debates on contraceptive use and reproductive rights. In response to these violations, Girls & Football SA, an award-winning NGO based out of South Africa, carried out a series of interviews with girls and women to discover how they felt about access to accurate information regarding their reproductive health and rights.
South Africa: State determined to regulate logistics fees drug makers pay to wholesalers
The South African Department of Health is standing firm on its determination to regulate fees for pharmaceutical wholesalers and has refused to bow to industry calls for it to protect smaller players in the industry.
The government is trying to regulate the logistics fees paid by pharmaceutical manufacturers to wholesalers and distributors to get their medicines to pharmacies and doctors. This is part of the government’s broad push to control medicine prices and give consumers a better deal.
13 September 2012
TRIPS flexibilities in SADC
By Wilbert Bannenberg
On Tuesday 18 September pharmaceutical, procurement, legal and trade representatives of SADC Member States will meet to hear what the impact could be of the World Trade Organisation’s so-called “TRIPS” agreement on procurement and access to medicines, and to discuss what they can do about it. This Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights agreement binds all WTO Member States to implement stricter patent protection in their national legislation.
Mauritius: Health Minister determined to tackle counterfeit medicines
The Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Mr. Lormus Bundhoo, launched a half-day workshop entitled “Campaign Against Counterfeit Medicines”, at the Hennessy Park Hotel, Ebène. The event was organised in collaboration with the United States (U.S.) Embassy. In his keynote address, Mr. Bundhoo said that the authorities are determined to raise awareness of the illicit manufacture and trade of counterfeit medicines, the associated risks, and the importance of combating counterfeit medicines in Mauritius.
Researchers working on smartphone Aids test
South African and South Korean researchers are working on making a smartphone capable of doing Aids tests in rural parts of Africa that are the worst hit by the disease, a researcher says. The team have developed a microscope and an application that can photograph and analyse blood samples in areas far from laboratories to diagnose HIV and even measure the health of immune systems. The gadget, called Smartscope, is a small 1-millimeter (0.04-inch) microscope and light which clips over a smartphone’s camera.
SADC joins forces to end TB in mines
Heads of states from Southern African have signed a declaration to tackle TB in the mining sector, that should see ex-miners and their families being followed up for treatment. Heads of states from Southern African have signed a declaration to tackle TB in the mining sector, that should see ex-miners and their families being followed up for treatment. Mine workers in South Africa currently have the highest rate of TB in the world.
Drug resistant tuberculosis found across the world
Scientists have found alarming levels of the lung disease tuberculosis in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America that are resistant to up to four powerful antibiotic drugs. In a large international study published in The Lancet medical journal, researchers found rates of both multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) were higher than previously thought and were threatening global efforts to curb the spread of the disease.
Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines
In an era of increasingly globalised trade, pharmaceutical patents play a key role in the availability and affordability of medicines, as shown by the conflict over access to anti-retroviral medicines for people living with HIV/Aids in resource-limited countries. Patent protection can also be a contentious issue in high-income countries, when high medicine prices impede access to effective treatment.
The School of Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in conjunction with The Foundation Open Society Initiative, is offering a two-week certificate course in Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines.
30 August 2012
Major price cut for rapid TB test
The cost of a highly accurate, rapid diagnostic test for tuberculosis (TB) has been reduced by 40 percent under a new agreement between the US government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the health financing mechanism, UNITAID. The agreement will see the cost of cartridges drop from US$16.86 to $9.98, and the price will not increase until 2022. According to the WHO Stop TB Partnership, 45 developing countries and those with a high TB burden will benefit from the price cut.
Tanzania to host key facility for health research
A major centre for health research that will serve the entire eastern, central and southern Africa region will be built in Arusha, Tanzania, it was announced yesterday. The minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hussein Mwinyi, told a conference of experts and policymakers in the health sector that land for the purpose has been availed by the Tanzania government. A 30-acre plot has been secured at Olmotonyi, outside Arusha, to construct the facility, he said in a speech read on his behalf by the director general of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Dr Mwele Malecela.
Health advocates eye proposed changes to patent law in South Africa
South African health activists and pharmaceutical industry stakeholders are keeping close watch over the government’s attempts to amend patent laws, which activists claim compromise the ability of the country’s poor majority to access cheaper generic medicines. Activists are hopeful that the still-to-be-released draft policy on intellectual property, which includes recommendations on current patent laws, will help South Africa catch up to some developing countries’ decision to allow cheaper life-saving generics into the market through the issuing of compulsory licenses.
New test raises hopes in global HIV/AIDS fight
A new test to measure the rate of HIV infection in populations is raising hopes among health officials that they’ll be able to figure out more quickly and cheaply which methods work best to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Known as the Limiting Antigen Avidity Enzyme Immunoassay, the test to measure HIV incidence was developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can tell whether a person was infected recently — within the last 141 days — or earlier.
Mozambique: HIV self management through patient groups
In Mozambique there are less than five doctors per 100,000 people, and 11.5% of the adult population are living with HIV. In rural areas, health centres are few and far between. These dire circumstances caused Médecins Sans Frontières to recognise the need to make optimal use of the scarce resources that do exist and to empower patients to provide each other with support.
Kenya: Technology opens the doors of Africa’s health sector
The start-up (Penda Health) aims to provide quality, affordable healthcare for the middle and lower income segments of Kenyan society. And to do this technology plays a big part. “We have a system that gives us a warning if any of our drugs are expired, and it forces our providers to dispose of those drugs immediately.” Penda Health’s system is bespoke, tracking stock and expiry dates through a simple interface accessible from a PC. When supplies run low, this triggers a warning to make sure more is ordered.
18 July 2012
What do we mean by access to medicines?
The paediatrician’s goal is the same whether doing rounds on wards in Africa, seeing patients in an anti-retroviral treatment (ART) clinic in India or taking part in an international panel discussion in Rome. Isn’t it time, asks Dr Nandita Sugandhi, that we simplify the language and unite around goals that everyone can understand?
London Summit on Family Planning
British aid will save the life of a woman or girl in the developing world every two hours for the next eight years, Prime Minister David Cameron said at the London Summit on Family Planning. The British Government and co-host The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation brought together representatives from governments, the private sector, donors and Civil Society groups who pledged to halve the number of girls and women in developing countries who want – but lack access to – modern contraception.
Chichewa is 5th Tendai language
In a development that will increase the authenticity of information coming out of the Tendai project, the project’s questionnaire will be translated into Chichewa.
This takes to five the number of languages that the questionnaire is available in (the others are Swahili, English, French and Portuguese). This development will dramatically increase the proportion of monitors collecting data and conducting interviews in their mother tongue.
AMRH Update: Model law for medicines regulation
The AMRH Programme is working to strengthen the legislative environment for harmonisation of medicines regulations in Africa and to mobilise stakeholders to respond to the absence and/or existence of weak laws that empower countries to effectively regulate medicines as well as harmonisation of regulatory standards and practice among countries through the existing regional structures. Although policies, treaties and protocols aimed at medicines regulatory harmonisation already exist in the majority of RECs, the implementation of agreed regional decisions by Member States remains a challenge due to the fact that such treaties are non-self-executing hence the need for domestication of such decisions through national laws…
Life in Zimbabwe: A country left behind by PEPFAR surges ahead
DUFUYA, Zimbabwe — Tendekai Sibanda, a single mother of two, starts her day at 4:30 am. After preparing a meal on firewood in a dimly lit thatched hut, she trudges village to village, covering up to 12 miles a a day on foot to attend to bed-ridden AIDS patients. In this poor village roughly 200 miles southwest of Harare, the capital, the fight against AIDS is distinctly Zimbabwe’s own. The country was largely left behind in the AIDS fight by the US government when Washington started the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003 under President George W. Bush. Instead, Zimbabwe relies on its own well-mapped network of community health workers such as Sibanda, who fan out daily across the country to make sure the country’s AIDS patients receive care.
Access to medicines in Malawi a battle for all, even presidents
Most presidents in Africa do not die in their own hospitals. They die in Europe or in posh private hospitals in South Africa. In Malawi, for the past three years accessing basic medicines has been a challenge for poor people. Going to hospitals is a big decision as people do not expect to find medicines most of the time. Half the time most of the shelves at public hospitals are empty and even the most basic drugs for treating malaria and other common diseases are scarce. But who would have thought that this would also be an issue for a president?
Healthcare sees emerging future in frugal innovation
When Argentinian car mechanic Jorge Odon was joking around with friends about how to get a cork out of an empty wine bottle using only a plastic bag, his thoughts were a long way from problem of maternal mortality. It struck him that the problem with the cork and the bottle was remarkably similar to obstructed labour, when a baby can’t get through the birth canal and puts its own and its mother’s life at risk. If the enthusiasm shown by Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), is borne out, he’ll go down in history as inventor of the first new assisted delivery device since vacuum suction and forceps were introduced decades and centuries ago.
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17 May 2012
Impact investing comes of age
As the bloodbath continues in the international banking industry, SARPAM’s Oliver Withers has more than one reason to feel pleased that he has escaped the City of London. Oliver, the lead for pharmaceutical market innovations at SARPAM, returned from the South African Impact Investing Conference in Johannesburg this month feeling certain that the time is exactly right to have made the switch to Impact Investing.
Medicines registration harmonisation: Focus on SADC after East African launch
East Africa celebrated the launch of its Medicines Registration Harmonisation Project in March. The Business Day, South Africa’s national business daily, was interested to find out what stakeholders, including the pharmaceutical industry, thought about what this meant for the wider region. SARPAM director Dr Shaun Conway told the newspaper that the development was in the interests of regional integration.
Call for urgent action on stock-outs of essential medicines in SA
A statement from the Treatment Action Campaign, the HIV Clinicians Society of Southern Africa and various other respected organisations raised the alarm over shortages of antiretroviral medicines at clinics throughout South Africa and called for urgent action. The statement outlined the grave dangers of treatment interruptions and substitutions, which were severely compromising the health of patients. The organisations also took issue with the Ministry of Health for failing to adopt guidelines on treatment substitutions from the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society as policy. Because of this failure, the statement said, “facilities remain uncertain about whether they can follow the recommendations when faced with a drug shortage”.
The InfoHub Team