Unitaid news June 2018



1. Inside Ghana's mosquito squad - a photo story

2. Better together: joining forces to advance the global health agenda

3. Six things you need to know about Medicines Patent Pool


Inside Ghana's mosquito squad

Sylvester Adams has two lives, and both of them make him proud. One, as a primary school teacher; the other, as a mosquito-killing specialist.
Since 2014, he has devoted three months a year to spraying the walls of houses in the Obuasi district with a long-lasting insecticide that kills malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
A US$ 65 million Unitaid-funded project is introducing the first new WHO-recommended insecticide in 40 years. Sumitomo's Sumishield® 50WG will reach 400,000 households and fight mosquito resistance to older insecticides.
What Sylvester loves most about his job is the respect he gets from the community. "They know we are saving lives," says Sylvester, 32. Especially since many adults still fail to sleep under insecticide-impregnated nets.
"It is too hot to sleep under the net, and anyway, I wouldn't have any place to hang it from," says Cecilia Pokhia, 43, a widow and mother of four.
What Sylvester likes least about his job is being turned away by residents who are at risk of malaria. "They complain about the smell of insecticide. They blame it for filling their house with bugs, when the bugs are really coming out of their hiding places to die."
Sylvester passed a written test and an interview, underwent two weeks of training, and takes a refresher course every month.
AGAMal, the organisation running the spraying programme, receives hundreds of applications for each vacancy, but not everybody has what it takes to become a mosquito-killing specialist.
But how hard can it be to spray a wall? Harder than you might think, says Sumitomo technical advisor Samuel Ajuzambey.
The concentration of insecticide and the pump pressure have to be just right, and the surfaces must be sprayed from a uniform distance of 40 centimeters.
All of it, while carrying 12 kilograms of equipment; bending over to shake the ten-litre insecticide tank, and braving the equatorial heat clad in an itchy suit and a mask.
Bumpy mud walls, dark shacks and cluttered rooms are no excuse. "Apply too much insecticide and you're wasting it; apply too little, and you may be fueling mosquito resistance," says Ajuzambey.
AGAMal covers belongings with blankets when residents decline to move them for spraying. Furniture where mosquitoes might land is also sprayed.
When Sylvester became involved in spraying homes, he didn't realize it would complement his work as a teacher. "Killing malaria-carrying mosquitoes means more kids can attend school."


Better together: joining forces to advance the global health agenda

World Health Assembly 2018

While the global health community remains committed to ending the epidemics of HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, new goals —and challenges— have forced their way onto the agenda.

Disease communities and other sectors must cooperate more creatively to strengthen health systems as a whole if real gains are to be made against antimicrobial and insecticide resistance, and toward universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.

On the occasion of the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, Unitaid launched its first call for proposals to help eliminate cervical cancer, particularly among women with HIV—a cross-cutting investment consistent with recent calls for better diagnostics of child fever and antimicrobial resistance.

Unitaid also held a meeting with CEOs of implementing partner organizations to better align our efforts amid an increasingly complex global health agenda. In parallel, we are exploring new ways of helping countries build national responses through innovative financing models –an example of how we are shifting towards a more integrated approach to health.

Quickening the pace of innovation and increasing access to the best health solutions hold the key to tackling global epidemics. For Unitaid and its current —and future— partners, the game is on.


On the eve of the 71st World Health Assembly, Unitaid brought together global health leaders and health ministers from over 20 countries to discuss the fight against global epidemics.

On the side-lines of the event, Unitaid caught up with participants to get their take on the global health response, the fight against antimicrobial resistance and the role of innovation. Here is what they said:


6 things you need to know about Medicines Patent Pool


Unitaid created the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) in 2010 to improve the HIV response by increasing access to drugs in developing countries.

MPP negotiates licenses with patent holders and it then sublicenses drugs to generic companies, encouraging the sale of affordable versions in developing countries.

"At the time, many wondered whether this idea could work, whether it was realistic," says Lelio Marmora, Unitaid executive director.


MPP has allowed countries to save US$ 553 million through the purchase of low-cost generic medicines, including 13 HIV antiretrovirals, two hepatitis C antivirals and one tuberculosis treatment.


MPP will expand its focus on voluntary licensing and patent pooling beyond HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis as part of its 2018-2022 strategy.

“The expansion is not about the MPP growing bigger, but about using a successful model to provide access to drugs in areas and to people that have not been reached before,” says Charles Gore, MPP's incoming executive director.


MPP will extend its model to drugs in the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines List, which encompasses non-communicable diseases and antibiotics.

“Risk management will be absolutely essential going forward,” says Gore, who wants to make sure the MPP deepens and broadens its scope without overextending its reach.


MPP ultimately aims for win-win-win deals: victories for public health, the pharmaceutical industry and generic manufacturers.


MPP will continue building on its core areas of expertise, including hepatitis C for which there is no big global funder. One of its priorities will be encouraging demand.

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