Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Call to action

"In this week's PLoS Medicine, the journal's editors call for concerted international action to address the crisis of malaria drug shortages across Africa." Compared to activism for many other causes, anti-malaria offensives are still developing to find novel ways to fight the disease. Editors reveal the signs of "an evolving 'malaria activism' (akin to AIDS activism)" (Public). "Probably no other disease in human history has been associated with social and political activism to the extent that the HIV epidemic has" (AIDS Activism). "Such activism played a huge role in reducing the costs of antiretroviral drugs in developing countries" (PLoS). Five years ago, a strong voice "argued that similar activism was needed to raise awareness of shortfalls in global efforts to control malaria" (Yarney). "We believe there are now signs of an evolving "malaria activism," which has resulted in two major successes" (PLoS). These outspoken agents assert that two waves of malaria activism have already occurred, and that we stand on the break of a third wave which will help deliver life-saving drugs to those who need them.

According to the medical journal, the "first wave of malaria activism highlighted the gap between the huge burden of malaria and the tiny amount of international development assistance dedicated to its control. Such advocacy helped motivate donors to increase their malaria commitments." The second wave of activism "focused on making sure that the extra funding was used to purchase" combination therapy drugs (like artemisinin combination therapies) that are more effective in Africa than single drug therapies (like cholorquine).
"These are big victories," the editors declare. "But one benchmark of successful ACT [Artemisinin Combination Therapy] scale-up is whether the drugs are available at the point of care. One of us has just returned from a health reporting fellowship in East Africa, where he found that ACT 'stock-outs' (shortages) were common." This crisis is due in part to "inadequate funding" to purchase the necessary combination therapies, "delays in procuring the drug, and weak health information systems that can't properly track national drug needs and flows".
The editors of the medical journal call for action. It is time for a third wave of activism. This new wave will raise awareness of the shortages of necessary drugs in regions of the world where they are desperately needed.

AIDS Activism. http://www.albany.edu/sph/AIDS/activists.html

PLoS. "Time for a Third Wave of Malaria Activism." http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000188

Public Library of Science. "It's Time for a 'Third Wave' of Malaria Activism to Tackle Drug Shortages." ScienceDaily 23 November 2009. 24 November 2009 .

Yarney, G. "Roll Back Malaria." http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/findArticle.action?author=Yamey&title=Roll%20Back%20Malaria:%20A%20failing%20global%20health%20campaign.


  1. Since buying the t-shirt ..Infectious bites, alot of people have been asking where they can get one, and what it is about, They have to get up kind of close to read the logo. But it is raising awareness, My son is too happy to tell people about the cause.

  2. Hello Cristine, and thank you for message. I'm happy to read how the shirts are raising awareness. In your opinion, should the logo be larger? We hoped the shirts to be more about malaria & less about branding, but a good balance is probably optimal. Opinions?