Novartis Story About the Rising Concern of Malaria That Resists Treatment

As World Mosquito Day approaches, revisit this story from the Novartis archives on how the rising concern of resistance threatens the great progress made against malaria
Aug 18, 2017 6:40 PM ET

In Kenya, about three-quarters of the population is at risk for malaria, and all four species of the malaria parasite that infect humans occur in the country. Although there has been substantial progress, malaria remains the leading cause of mortality in Kenya, killing an estimated 30,000 people every year, most of them children under 5 years old.

Lake Victoria in southwestern Kenya is on the front line in the fight against malaria, and Agnes Akoth is a key figure. Tall and striking, this towering force of energy in Kisumu County is a 35- year veteran of the global quest to eradicate a deadly disease.

Despite job offers from big hospitals in the capital Nairobi, Ms. Akoth has chosen to stay in Kisumu and works as head nurse at the US Army Medical Research Unit-Kombewa clinic, known locally as the Walter Reed Project. Here she provides much-needed local leadership and addresses poor understanding of malaria in surrounding communities.

Her own experience of contracting the disease while pregnant with her youngest child has made her resolute about what must be done. The Walter Reed Project has a two-pronged approach to fighting the disease. Scientists there conduct research and run clinical trials that may potentially lead to new malaria vaccines and drugs.

Novartis works with the project and runs clinical trials for new antimalarial medicines there, including two key studies for its artemisinin-based therapy Coartem.

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About the Novartis Malaria Initiative:

The Novartis Malaria Initiative drives research, development and access to novel treatments to eliminate malaria. It is one of the pharmaceutical industry’s largest access-to-medicine programs. Since 2001, the initiative has delivered more than 800 million treatments without profit, mostly to the public sector of malaria-endemic countries.

The Novartis Malaria Initiative is integrated in Novartis Social Business, a unit which includes Novartis Access, SMS for Life and the Novartis Healthy Family programs.

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