Unitaid Focuses On Malaria Chemoprevention For Infants & Pilots New ‘Agility Mechanism’

Unitaid will expand its work in malaria to include chemoprevention for infants in the first year of life and pilot a new “agility” mechanism to support global health innovation in 2020, following approval granted by Unitaid’s Executive Board on November 20 to 21.

(left-right) ED Lelio Marmora, Board Vice-Chair Maria Luisa Escoral de Moraes, Board Chair Marisol Touraine, Deputy ED Philippe Duneton

The Board’s approval will allow Unitaid to launch a call for proposals for projects on malaria chemoprevention for infants.

“Chemoprevention is a key piece of the puzzle in the fight against malaria,” said Unitaid Executive Director Lelio Marmora in a press release.

“Adding infant malaria chemoprevention to Unitaid’s expanding malaria portfolio will not only protect millions of babies from this deadly disease but also help reignite the stalled progress in the global malaria response.” 

Infants and children are highly vulnerable to malaria because they have not yet developed protective immunity, according to Unitaid. Of the 435,000 malaria deaths in 2017, more than 60 percent occurred in children under 5.

Currently, malaria chemoprevention, or the strategy of providing medication to prevent malaria, is used by Global Fund financed programmes protect children 3 to 59 months old during the four-month rainy season in 12 countries in the Sahel, based on evidence from a Unitaid/Malaria Consortium project (ACCESS-SMC). Unitaid also invests in projects to expand and monitor malaria chemoprevention in pregnant women.

In a separate decision, the Board approved up to US$20 million in 2020 to fund a new framework to respond quickly to global health innovation, delegating the authority to enter into legal agreements under the pilot to the Executive Director. Current ED Lelio Marmora also announced to the Board that he will be stepping down by March 2020, and Deputy Executive Director Philippe Duneton has been identified as acting ED in the interim.

Image Credits: Unitaid.

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