PMI Statement on Theft and Illegal Diversion of Malaria Medicines

Nov 12, 2013 |

The U.S. Government strongly condemns the theft and illegal diversion of medicines that are intended to cure malaria in the most vulnerable populations in Sub-Saharan Africa – pregnant women and children under-five years old, reported in Thieves Hijacking Malaria Drugs in Africa, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), November 11, 2013. This is not the first report of theft or illegal diversion.

In 2010, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)-funded ACTs intended for use in public sector clinics in several East African countries were found being sold in informal pharmacies and medicine vendors in West African countries. Further reports have been received since then, documenting additional instances of theft involving drugs and other malaria commodities financed by PMI, as well as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in several African countries.

Illegal diversion occurs when a genuine pharmaceutical product is approved and intended for use in one country, but is then illegally intercepted and sold in another country. Diversion is not a malaria problem alone but impacts disease treatments in many different countries and high value product markets.

There have been no reported thefts of PMI-financed commodities from the point of manufacture while in transit to the country. As documented by the WSJ article, evidence suggests that antimalarial medicine theft occurred outside direct U.S. Government control, within recipient country systems.

If there is repeated evidence of theft, corruption or fraud, PMI has taken the step in several countries of withdrawing PMI-funded commodities from national government controlled supply systems and channeling them through a non-governmental parallel system. At the same time, PMI works to strengthen national supply chain management systems and safeguards so that malaria commodities can be returned to the national system as soon as possible.

The U.S. Government has taken programmatic and diplomatic steps to identify and combat theft and misappropriation of medicines procured with U.S. Government funding and has referred information to the USAID Office of the Inspector General and other law enforcement officials.

We continue to work with recipient country stakeholders at all levels to improve the accountability, transparency and performance of supply chains to ensure that the integrity of our programs is maintained and the intended beneficiaries are served. This includes national governments, medical stores and local institutions to strengthen oversight to ensure the safe delivery of drugs and other malaria commodities to the end user.

We are making use of all available diplomatic, public health, and law enforcement channels to counter the theft and illegal diversion of malaria drugs.

Tim Ziemer, Rear Admiral USN (ret.)
U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator

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