Mali: Access efforts open pipeline for affordable eye medicine

© Alain Kazinierakis Click on image for full size People wait outside a maternity clinic in Mapti, Mali.
Yet treatment for trachoma in Mali has been hampered by the high cost of the brand-name trachoma drug azithromycin, produced by a giant U.S. pharmaceutical company. The MSF team in the field, working with the MSF Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines (see page 16), checked the patent situation and discovered that there was no patent yet registered in Mali. The team then worked with the Malian health authorities to set up import and registration of the same drug made by an Indian pharmaceutical company producing a cheaper, generic version. Click on image for full size
MSF is set to manage a pilot program using the drug in the district of Bankassa, in Mopti. Community health workers will be trained to distribute the medicine in the villages, direct people to health centers, and educate the population about trachoma. Throughout Mopti, MSF aids local health workers, who educate the population and perform basic surgery to correct trachoma. In September 2000, MSF also began work with a mobile team performing cataract surgery. In addition to work on these blinding diseases, MSF continues to support district health services and a nursing school in the north-central region of Gao. There is also a pilot project underway to improve management and performance at a hospital in Selingue, in the south. MSF has been working in Mali since 1983. International staff: 3 National staff: 35