U.S. Concerned Over Drug Theft in Malawi

Lilongwe, November 3 – U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, and U.S. Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer, today held a press conference during which they underscored the need for Malawian citizens to join forces with their nation’s health and law enforcement authorities to stop the widespread theft of drugs across the nation that will lead to a stock-out of malaria treatment drugs in Malawi.

According to Admiral Ziemer, “With over $200 million (MK 114 Billion) in investment in Malawi between 2006 and 2015, the U.S. Government’s Presidential Malaria Initiative has contributed to substantial scaling-up of malaria prevention and control interventions in Malawi.”  But, Admiral Ziemer noted, those successes are now at risk due to widespread theft of U.S. Government-provided malaria treatment drugs meant to be distributed to Malawian citizens free of charge. “As a leading donor of malaria treatment drugs and other supplies in Malawi, the U.S. Government is extremely concerned about any diversion of donated medicines that are meant to be freely prescribed to the people of Malawi,” Ambassador Palmer said.  “I appreciate the serious engagement of the Ministry of Health, including the Minister, to address the problem, including by submitting amendments to the Pharmacies, Medicines and Poisons Control Act to Parliament to stiffen penalties for theft of medicines.  This theft and corruption are serious issues particularly since resources available to fight malaria are insufficient.  We need drug theft to stop and we need the public to play a role in identifying it, reporting it, and holding the people responsible accountable.”

Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children under age five in Malawi. In 2014, there were 6.3 million cases of malaria reported.  It is endemic in 95% of the country, with 98% of infections due to Plasmodium falciparum, the most severe form of the five human malarial species.  The Malawian Ministry of Health estimates that malaria accounts for 34% of all outpatient visits and 40% of all hospital admissions among children under age five. Malaria is reported to cause four out of ten hospital deaths in Malawi.
U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer recently completed a five-day visit to Malawi during which he engaged government officials and program beneficiaries to assess the local impact of the program.

For more information on the U.S. Presidential Malaria Initiative please visit: http://www.pmi.gov/about/

Contacts:        Edward J. Monster – Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy

Marcus Muhariwa – Information Specialist, U.S. Embassy

Public Affairs Section

Old Mutual Building

P.O. Box 30016

Lilongwe 3, Malawi

Internet:          https://mw.usembassy.gov/

Facebook:       U.S. Embassy Lilongwe

Tel:                  (265) 1 772-222

Email:              MonsterEJ@state.gov

MuhariwaMN@state.gov