Health advocates call for removal of taxes on malaria products

no tax on mosquito products

no tax on mosquito products

Malaria is a leading cause of child mortality in Africa, claiming a life nearly every 30 seconds. It kills one million people every year, and children are at highest risk for severe malarial illness and death during the first five years of life. To win the fight against malaria and reduce the death rate to zero by 2015, health advocates at a Roll Back Malaria meeting in Geneva on Wednesday called for an end to taxes and tariffs on malaria products. Jocelyne Sambira has more.

NARR: Malaria is endemic in 109 countries…and the average medicine course can cost between 6 and 10 USD, in countries where people earn less than 3 USD a day.

In Kenya alone, malaria is the number one cause of death and it’s also the number one cause for hospitalization. But since 2002, the country has taken action to make sure that taxes and tariffs on malaria medicines have been eliminated. According to Dr. James Gesami, Assistant Minister for Public Health and Sanitation in Kenya, there has been considerable progress.

“In fact between 2002 and 2009 we have been able to reduce infant mortality…that is quite significant.”

NARR: And Kenya is not alone; its neighbours- Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania have also followed suit.

However, the problem is far from over. Last year alone an estimated 800,000 people lost their lives to malaria, mainly pregnant mothers and children.

Tax and tariff removal play a critical role in reducing the cost of anti-malaria products. Adopting this policy would help control and even eliminate malaria in the long run.

An Abuja declaration signed in April 2000 by 40 African leaders was supposed to help implement the strategy, but progress has been slow.

Awa Marie Coll-Seck is the Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership:

“What you have seen today is that in 62% of the countries, the medicine has obtained a waiver and the tax has been removed… but when you take them together, you have few countries which have removed completely all the taxes and tariffs.”

NARR: Meanwhile, the majority of commodities used to fight malaria are imported from overseas, which is why the prices remain high, according to Dr. Halima Mwenesi, the head of the Malaria Taxes and Tariffs Advocacy Project under the Roll Back Malaria partnership.

“For example, if you are bringing in nets and you are bringing in material … So we are now working with the World Customs Organization…

NARR: With only four years left before the 2015 deadline set to end malaria in Africa, it is critical that African nations ensure that cost does not pose a barrier to access.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

duration: 2’35″

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