New malaria research unveiled today in Kenya finds that thousands of people die each year because they can't afford - or don't have access to - the most effective form of treatment, called artemisinin-based combination therapies or ACTs.
The ACTwatch research project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focuses on the availability, price and use of the drugs in seven African countries and Cambodia.
Desmond Chavasse is Vice President for Malaria Control and Child Survival at Population Services International (PSI), and project director of ACTwatch.
He told RFI that ACTwatch's researchers had asked parents where they would seek treatment for children with symptoms of malaria. In most cases, the first port of call would be a private pharmacy rather than a government health facility.
"When they get there, they generally will not find ACTs there – and if they do, they’ll find that they are so expensive that they can’t afford them."
ACTwatch found that ACTs are 10 to 20 per cent more expensive in the private sector than the most commonly available anti-malarials.
Dr Chevasse says that "this is ultimately what’s leading to the fact that most children in Africa are either not being treated at all for malaria - or they’re being treated with ineffective drugs."
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Health Areas: Malaria