ACCESS-SMC, a UNITAID-funded project, led by Malaria Consortium in partnership with Catholic Relief Services, was officially launched at a meeting in Uganda last month. It is supporting National Malaria Control Programmes across the Sahel to scale up access to seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) saving thousands of young children’s lives.
SMC is the administration of effective anti-malarials, at appropriate intervals, during the rainy season to prevent malaria. The project will provide up to 30 million treatments annually to 7.5 million children under age five in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and The Gambia over the next three years. This intervention can potentially avert 49,000 deaths due to malaria in children who are most at risk.
In October, Malaria Consortium hosted a kick-off meeting in Kampala. The participants included representatives from the seven partner organisations (Malaria Consortium, Catholic Relief Services, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Centre de Support de Santé International, Management Sciences for Health, Medicines for Malaria Venture and Speak Up Africa), from seven of the supported countries’ National Malaria Control Programmes and the West Africa Roll Back Malaria Network. The gathering also provided an opportunity to review principles for approaches and implementation, discuss country specific contexts, and schedule activities and timelines, and start planning the logistics for the first round of treatments in 2015.
It will be an extremely complex project - delivering anti-malaria treatments between June and December to millions of children mostly living in remote and rural areas. Although each of the countries participating already has some experience of delivering SMC, the geographical scale and number of children to be reached are unprecedented.
A significant initial challenge is working through the constraints represented by the existing drug market and increasing the global supply of quality SMC products to ensure sufficient commodities will be available. The project’s staff is also working on solutions to the logistical challenges at the most difficult period of the year – the rainy season - when roads are often impassable and remote communities cut-off in order to reach those who need the protection from malaria SMC the most.
For more information on seasonal malaria chemoprevention, visit the WHO website.
Keywords: Preventive treatments