In Africa, malaria is the largest cause of death for children under five.
In Africa, malaria is the largest cause of death for children under five.

By MALLORY JENSEN

Every thirty seconds, one child in Africa dies from malaria, a disease that is spread through the bites of female mosquitoes carrying certain parasites. Malaria feels a little bit like having a bad flu, but it’s much more dangerous. Though treatments have been available for some time, they have been hard to get, hard to pay for, and hard to use.

As Dr. Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, said, “The world urgently needs more affordable and easy-to-use fixed-dose treatments for malaria, especially for children.”

This March, a new drug was released in Africa for people suffering from malaria – a drug that is easy-to use, inexpensive, and very promising. This new medicine is called ASAQ, the letters standing for the drug’s main ingredients, artesunate and amodiaquine (hard to say, but fun to sound out!), but the organization Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) and pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis use them to stand for four other words that describe why the drug so important:

ASAQ is Adapted from well-known drugs, Simple to take, Accessible for many people, and of top Quality. Each of the two ingredients that make up ASAQ targets a different aspect of the malaria-spreading parasite so that the person undergoing the treatment has a better chance of surviving the disease.

The partnership of DNDi and Sanofi-Aventis marks the first time a charitable organization and a for-profit drug company have teamed up to combat a serious problem by creating a new product that, because of its low price, will not make any money. This “dose of innovation” is a new way for medications to be made available and will hopefully serve as a model for others to follow.