PFIZER COMMITS $15 MILLION THROUGH PRESIDENT CLINTON’S GLOBAL INITIATIVE TO ADDRESS CRITICAL TREATMENT GAPS IN MALARIA
Patients in Senegal, Ghana and Kenya to Benefit from New Partnership with Leading International and Local Health Organizations
NEW YORK, September 20 – As part of a collaborative effort to address global health issues, Pfizer announced a $15 million commitment that will help close critical treatment gaps in malaria for patients in Senegal, Ghana and Kenya. Through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Pfizer will partner with governments, leading local and international organizations like UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the President’s Malaria Initiative (USAID), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help develop and strengthen programs for the effective treatment and management of malaria.
Malaria is Africa’s leading cause of child mortality with one out of every five children dying as a result of the disease. While effective new anti-malarial medicines have become available, critical obstacles remain in ridding affected regions of this fatal, yet curable, disease.
“The malaria pandemic in Africa, responsible for 10 percent of the continent’s overall disease burden, is a heartbreaking and frustrating challenge,” said Dr. Joseph Feczko, Pfizer’s Chief Medical Officer. “Unless patient education and the capacity for care is rapidly improved, new anti-malarials will achieve only incremental health impact,” concluded Feczko.
Through the five year malaria initiative, the company will provide grants and Pfizer Global Health Fellow (GHF) expertise to support programs that improve patients’ understanding of appropriate treatment and patient care, especially in the non-traditional informal health sector where sub-optimal diagnosis and treatment is offered.
“We commend President Clinton for his leadership and partnership with global business leaders in improving the quality of life for people throughout the developing world,” said Robert L. Mallett, senior vice president, Global Stakeholder Alliances, Philanthropy & Corporate Citizenship. “We are pleased to announce this initiative as part of our continued commitment to partner in the fight to address neglected diseases,” Mallett added.
With several decades of experience working with stakeholders on the African continent, Pfizer will support efforts to engage health care providers to improve the effective management of malaria and educate patients to make better health choices. Through the malaria initiative, Pfizer is targeting partnerships in these regions to increase the number of caretakers seeking appropriate treatment for feverish children and increase the number of children taking anti-malarial medications.
Malaria experts in Senegal, Ghana and Kenya, indicate that the greatest barrier to care is that patients and caretakers do not seek and complete proper treatment regimens. Rather than taking the right course of treatment, many patients rely on traditional medicines and herbs, take an unfinished course from their last bout of malaria, or take aspirin or other painkillers to ward off the symptoms.
When patients do seek treatment, the majority do not visit the traditional public sector health centers where new medicines are distributed because of long lines and less convenient locations. Instead, patients choose to visit non-traditional informal health outlets closer to their homes where basic medicines are sold but where no medical staff is available to make a proper clinical diagnosis.
Malaria is an infectious disease that consumes the red blood cells of its host, leading to fever, anemia, and in severe cases, a coma potentially leading to death. Malaria has been estimated to cost Africa more than $12 billion each year in lost gross domestic product (GDP).
Pfizer also has a research program focused on malaria. Scientists are developing a potential treatment based on its widely used antibiotic Zithromax. Dosed in combination with chloroquine, Zithromax has demonstrated promising results against malaria in a pilot study. Clinical studies are underway at 19 study centers in 10 countries in South America, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, and Africa. Leading international researchers are conducting these trials under the guidance of each country's Ministry of Health and Ethics Committee.
Other Pfizer initiatives:
Global Health Fellows – The program sends Pfizer colleagues on assignments to work with non-governmental and multi-lateral organizations addressing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria.
- Since 2003, more than 100 Fellows have been selected to work with 23 non-governmental organizations in 29 countries to deliver healthcare and health system support to those in need around the world.
Infectious Diseases Institute – Pfizer partners with the Academic Alliance Foundation, Makerere University, Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and other organizations to support training and treatment activities of the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) in Kampala, Uganda. This regional training and treatment center is empowering the local healthcare providers to care for a population desperately in need of HIV/AIDS treatment and to train others.
- Since 2004, the IDI has trained more than 1,000 healthcare providers from 22 African countries.
- The center has delivered care to more than 19,000 patients so far.
- IDI is also partnering with Exxon Mobil to expand training programs to include the latest advances in malaria diagnosis, treatment and patient care.
Diflucan Partnership Program – Diflucan® (fluconazole), an antifungal that treats two fungal opportunistic infections associated with AIDS, is provided free of charge to governmental and non-governmental organizations in developing countries.
- The program has donated approximately $375 million in medicine to organizations who treat HIV positive patients with life-threatening fungal infections. The program is active in 47 countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS.
- Since 2000, the Diflucan Partnership Program supported the training of 20,000 health professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of fungal opportunistic infections.
International Trachoma Initiative - A public-private partnership dedicated to eliminating trachoma, the world's leading cause of preventable blindness, through health worker training, patient education and donations of the antibiotic, Zithromax® (azithromycin).
- The ITI has given 37 million treatments of Zithromax® (azithromycin) to trachoma patients in 12 countries as part of the WHO SAFE strategy that combines prevention and treatment. Since 1998 the program has supported the training of thousands of health workers around the world who, in turn, have completed more than 220,000 surgeries to treat advanced cases of trachoma.