Fears raised by Oxfam over global funding programme for Malaria medication
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Having recently enjoyed a fabulous trip canoeing the Zambezi river in Zambia, I am still taking my recommended malaria medication, which is advised as an essential precaution to all UK citizens travelling to areas where malaria is prevalent.
The UK government it seems, along with many others, commits funds to global schemes looking to promote the availability of cheaper, high quality medications in countries where they are needed. However Oxfam has raised concerns that the monies donated to the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm) do not benefit those people who are in the greatest need, as the medications are supplied by private drug companies, and therefore must still be purchased by the individuals on a privately paying basis. Oxfam's argument appears to be that those without any access to funds are therefore effectively denied access to the medications.
Oxfam is keen instead to promote schemes which invest in community health workers, which it notes have had successes in countries such as Ethiopia and Zambia in significantly reducing the numbers of malarial deaths (clearly of interest to me given my recent travels).
I do not pretend to be able to give an informed view on the issue, but it seems to me that investing in local knowledge and trust built within local communities has to be an extremely positive step. However, whilst the AMFm scheme may have its drawbacks, I am hopeful that all initiatives that aim to increase the availability of potentially life-saving medication in the countries that require it the most, will in the longer term, have a beneficial impact upon the communities that they are intended to help.
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