In the summer of 2010 I went to Uganda on a medical trip where we saw hundreds of people affected by malaria. Ever since, I have had a huge heart for these children that we saw at the orphanage. This past summer, I took a Microbiology class at the University of Tennessee where we learned about Sanofi-Aventis and the affordable malaria medication made in 2007. I am starting an annual 5k in honor of my father who passed away to raise money to buy this medication to give to children in Uganda (my church has a medical clinic over there). I was wondering how I would go about obtaining this medication or if you could help me in any way. Thank you so much for your time.
It’s great that you have become passionate about helping people fight malaria in Uganda. In terms of helping people with access to anti-malarial medicine, I can think of three ways you could go about it.
First of all, you could raise money to donate to an organization which already works on health issues in the area of Uganda in which your church operates. You would need to do some research on what organizations operate in the area, and also try to find out a bit about their reputation and overheads (it’s frustrating to see your donations whittled away on mundane, if important, bureaucratic costs rather than going directly into buying medication). Alternatively, but along the same lines, you could look into donating the money directly to the medical clinic that your church supports, and see if they can purchase the necessary medications locally or at least within Uganda. Both of these approaches have the advantage that you will be partnering with people who already work in the area, know the local landscape, and have relationships with local government health clinics and other local authorities, who may hear of your action and feel the need to be informed. The disadvantage is that you would be reliant on drug supplies available in the area; throughout Africa, there are recurrent problems of people buying counterfeit drugs, or being given expired pills.
Similarly, supplies are not always reliable, and you might have to settle for buying whatever drug is available, regardless of the formulation or brand (though I would strongly encourage you to ONLY buy artemisinin-based combination therapies, or ACTs, of which Coarsucam and ASAQ Winthrop, both fixed dose combinations of artesunate-amodiaquine created by Sanofi-Aventis, are included).
Your third option, which is probably the most logistically challenging but over which you would have the most control, would be to solicit pharmaceutical companies directly to see if they would be willing to sell you pills directly at whole sale price, based on the money you raise from your annual race. Many pharmaceutical companies already have programs to develop health care initiatives and improve public health in the world’s poorest companies, so you could try to include your project as one of these initiatives.
Sanofi-Aventis itself has a program called Impact Malaria which works with a variety of stakeholders to tackle malaria on the ground, and which includes distribution of the drugs mentioned above. You could also look into other pharmaceutical companies that develop anti-malarial drugs, such as Novartis (which produces Coartem), Lonart (Bliss Gvs Pharma), and many others. One thing to bear in mind is that there are often restrictions on importing and exporting drugs, and also many other things to consider when doing drug donations.
This paper outlines some of the issues you should be thinking about if you want to go down the direct donation path: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1121783/