Group calls for end to malaria treatment taxes and tariffs

Campaigners from the Malaria Taxes and Tariffs Advocacy Projects have urged governments to drop tariffs and taxes on mosquito nets, medicines and any other anti-malaria tools to reduce the cost of life-saving products and to expedite their delivery.

M-TAP says that despite a promise 10 years ago from African leaders to drop these tariffs, only six countries worldwide have removed the fees on products used to fight malaria, Reuters reports.

"While progress has been made in removing taxes and tariffs and rolling back import barriers, many countries still have a long way to go," Halima Mwenesi, director of M-TAP, said in a Wednesday statement, according to Reuters. "A decade ago, 40 African heads of state agreed to reduce or eliminate taxes and tariffs, but our data indicate that only six countries worldwide have completely removed tariffs on the products required for comprehensive malaria control."

The campaigners said that removing these tariffs and taxes may reduce the costs of these drugs and other products that are shipped from overseas. So far, only Guinea, Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius, Tanzania and Papua New Guinea have removed the tariffs, Reuters reports.

Some of the treatments taxed by most nations include insecticide-treated bednets, rapid diagnostic tests, indoor spraying insecticides, malaria drugs known as artemisinin-based combination therapies, and insecticide spray pumps.

Malaria, a disease spread by mosquitoes, threatens up to half the world’s population and kills around 800,000 a year. Most of the deaths are children in Africa.

"Private sector providers continue to play a critical role in supplying access to malaria treatment and prevention despite the huge increase in donor commitments over the past five years," Mwenesi saod, according to Reuters. "We must make every effort to ensure that cost does not pose a significant barrier to access."