Affordable Medicines Facility - malaria increasing access to malaria treatment

The Affordable Medicines Facility – malaria has brought life-saving anti-malaria treatments to private stores and pharmacies in Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar and Nigeria for as little as 50 cents a dose, in comparison to previous costs of nearly twenty times that much.

The AMFm initiative began last year and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNITAD and the United Kingdom. It receives technical support from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and is hosted by the Global Fund, according to

The program is being piloted in four additional countries - Tanzania, Niger, Uganda and Cambodia – in an effort to learn lessons for a potential global rollout.

Approximately 225 million people fall ill to malaria every year and 780,000 die from the disease, mostly in the developing world. AMFm aims to make anti-malaria drugs, particularly those known as artemisinin-based combination therapies, as affordable and as widely available as possible.

Despite World Health Organization recommendations that ACTs be the first line of defense against malaria, they are only used in one in five of all treatments and, until recently, they have only been available for free or low cost at public health facilities, reports.

Before the launch of AMFm, private shops and pharmacies across Africa were generally able to sell only older medicines such as chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine at a widely affordable price. Over time, these medicines have become less effective as the malaria parasite has become increasingly resistant.

One objective of the AMFm program is to drive out ineffective therapies from the market by replacing them with ACTs.

"The Affordable Medicines Facility - malaria is a major step forward," Michel Kazatchkine said, according to "It uses innovative financing methods to save lives by providing affordable and effective medicines to more people in need through the public, NGO and private sectors."

The Global Fund supports the AMFm initiative by negotiating with drug manufacturers for a discount price for ACTs. It then pays most of the reduced price on behalf of importers from the private, public and NGO sectors.

With an average sales price of around 10 cents, private wholesalers can sell the ACTs to retailers at a profit. Pharmacies and stores can sell the drugs at an additional markup, but the price remains more affordable.

Under AMFm, the Society for Family Health, an NGO operating in Nigeria, began distributing ACTs in March 2011.  A full course of treatment can now be obtained for children under the age of five for 20 cents in a private health clinic or outlet, reports. A full adult course sells for 80 cents.

Governments in the pilot countries where the AMFm is being implemented are supporting the initiative with public awareness campaigns and training for ACT providers.