WHO has warned Global Fund, the world's leading funder of treatments for infectious disease, that its current policy of Treating AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria carried a risk of causing drug resistance.
Kochi Arata, head of the WHO's malaria programme referring to the compliance list of drugs circulated by the Global Fund which contains advice on the malaria drug artemisinin. It has been found that Artemisinin was effective in treating the worst cases of malaria even the strains of the malarial parasite that had developed resistance to all other drugs.
However as health experts warn the use of this drug as a 'monotherapy', that is without a second drug, would foster resistance, leaving no alternative medicine to treat the resistant parasite.
The Global Fund's compliance list cites several such monotherapies where the manufacturing is of good quality and is used as a guide for countries purchasing these malaria drugs. WHO had launched an appeal to stop monotherapy, urging manufacturers to stop producing artemisinin alone, and on countries to ban its use.13 of the 40 manufacturers of artemisinin therapy that the WHO identified have agreed to cease its production.
Mr Arata expressed concerns that others might seek to exploit the gap created by the Global Fund's compliance list and boost their own monotherapy sales. Although several countries have also agreed to withdraw marketing authorisation from monotherapies to ban their use, 49 have not.
According to him China both uses and produces large amounts of artemisinin which was a major issue of concern. In addition Mr Arata criticised the 'unsatisfactory' response of the Global Fund to the WHO's demands that it change its compliance list.
Global Fund has defended themselves claiming that they would follow whatever advice the WHO gave to countries it funded. However it argued that its list was not compulsory and only reflected the guidelines of the WHO. WHO does not agree, arguing that the list results in misuse and confusion, provides unnecessary endorsement for drugs and is used for marketing by monotherapy manufacturers.