Last Thursday, we saw an interesting piece in The Guardian, the well-regarded British newspaper, on the challenges of providing malaria treatment in Africa to those that need it. We thought Sarah Boseley, the Guardian health editor, documented well the dire lack of Coartem malaria treatment in much of Uganda. But we were dismayed by the way she turned against the role of the market in providing such treatment at the conclusion of her story, even after admitting the failure of the public sector to do so and seemingly admiring the ability of companies like Coca-Cola to make their products widely available. So we defended the role of the market in this letter to the editor which was published yesterday in The Guardian online and this morning in the print edition.
Unfortunately, The Guardian edited out a crucial fact in the letter we submitted: The project launched almost a year ago by Medicines for Malaria Venture is working and making Coartem available through many small shops in these four districts of eastern Uganda. Here is the passage edited out of our letter to The Guardian :
Fortunately, Biryeri’s story had a happy ending, with all three of three of her children recovering, but not all such stories end so happily. Biyeri told me she can now buy Coarten in several small drug shops just a few feet from her house, at prices she can easily afford. “Life is precious,” she told me, “and I pray that the shops will not run out of this product, which has been brought nearer to me.”
And here is the story of my own visit with this project in Uganda based on a trip I made there in September 2008, which we cited in our letter.