Fighting Malaria with Innovation

Malaria is one of the most common infectious diseases. Every year, the disease claims almost 1 million victims, in particular in Africa. 85% of the victims are children under the age of five. Anti-malaria medicines, which have been cheap, effective and used for several decades, are no longer effective as the pathogens have become resistant to them. The Artemesia plant contains a substance: Artemisinin. This substance offers an affordable alternative, which is not only effective but also safe. During the last several years, Artemisinin based combination treatments have become the front line treatment for malaria in most countries and the demand for these drugs has therefore increased rapidly.

To be able to meet the growing demand, the challenge is to quickly activate all elements of the production chain: the farmers who grow the Artemisia plant, the factories that extract the substance Artemisinin and the pharmaceutical industry that subsequently manufactures the Artemisinin based therapies.

With the support of the World Health Organisation an innovative initiative known as A2S2 (Assured Artemisinin Supply System) has been launched to meet the growing demand for Artemisinin. The participants in this initiative are: i+solutions and Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund from the Netherlands, FSC (UK) and Artepal (France). The core innovative aspect of A2S2 is the Pre-Finance Facility designed as a tripartite agreement between the Artemisinin extractor, the buyer (approved pharmaceutical manufacturers) and Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund. Koert Jansen, fund manager Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund: ‘Our trade finance loans are made directly to the extractors. The loans will support an advance payment to the farmers so as to initiate Artemisia planting and a second payment following the Artemisia harvest and delivery.’

This process is currently being used in, amongst others, Kenya where Botanical Extracts EPZ Ltd. was created to develop a sustainable supply chain for quality Artemisinin at a price that makes life-saving Artemisinin based malaria treatments affordable to the people who need them the most.

1 comment

  1. hans r herren

    Having worked on artemisia while the Director General of ICIPE in Nairobi from 1994 to 2005, and with the experience we have gained from our work then with KEMRI, I can only say that what is being done with artemisia on the above described project is shortsighted and will endanger the last good drug we have against malaria. Why do I say this? Because it has been shown in trials, using WHO protocols and carried out under a joint project with KEMRI, that the whole plant material, collected from artemisia plants grown in kenya and Tanzania, before flowering, did, once pulverized and pressed into tablets, fully control malaria in all patients tested at the ICIPE clinic in Mbita Point.
    I really wonder what the advantage of extracting Artemisin is, except making it expensive, and accelerating the resistance development process. Again, one should think harder before engaging in this type of project, which simply follows the quest to make money instead of solving a problem. Hans R Herren

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