Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development
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Malaria is one of the main tropical diseases worldwide. The WHO estimated that in 2006, 247 million people were affected by malaria. Nearly one million of these people died. Particularly vulnerable are children under 5 years of age and pregnant women due to a (temporarily) low level of immunity. The most affected continent is sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 91% of malaria-related deaths. Due to increasing business and tourism travel, malaria cases are also on the rise in Europe and North America. Yet, malaria does not only affect the health of people, but equally represents an enormous social and economic burden for governments and households in developing countries: people cannot work or go to school when they fall ill with malaria; and the disease consumes substantial resources of a country’s health system.

Malaria is an infectious disease that is transmitted to the human being through bites of the female anopheles mosquito. The mosquito is only the vector, i.e. it carries the parasite that causes malaria. There are different forms of malaria parasites: plasmodium falciparum is predominant in sub-Saharan Africa, while plasmodium vivax, is frequently found in Asia. The other two types are called plasmodium ovale and malariae. Though a dangerous disease, death is preventable if appropriate treatment is taken in time and correctly.

The internationally recognized Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP) promoted by the Roll Back Malaria Initiative (RBM) – an institution launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank – and adopted by many countries, consists of three elements:

The first phase, scale up efforts for impact and sustained control, concentrates on vector control activities such as mass use of insecticide treated bed nets (ITN) and anti-larval measures, intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women (ITP) as well as efficacious and safe treatment. Research is being conducted on vaccine development (e.g. GSK and Malaria Vaccine Initiative) and new treatments.

The newly established Malaria Elimination Group (MEG), a group of 45 international experts including Klaus M. Leisinger, Presi­dent and Managing Director of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, focuses on the second part of the GMAP: the elimina­tion of malaria.

According to its core competencies as a pharmaceutical company, Novartis concentrates on contributions to enable access to quality treatment and research on new therapies: It provides a highly efficacious and well-tolerated medicine (up to 95% cure rates), Coartem, at cost price to developing countries. It is a pre-qualified, fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for the treatment of acute, uncomplicated malaria cases of the plasmodium falciparum type. Coartem contains arthemeter, a derivative of artemisinin, which is an extraction product of the sweet worm plant cultivated mainly in China and Africa. Arthemeter is complemented with a chemical compound, lufemantrine. In collaboration with Medicine for Malaria Venture (MMV), Novartis successfully developed a pediatric formulation called Coartem-D. It is a dispersible tablet with a cherry taste that no longer requires crushing tablets with a bitter taste. This will improve adherence of children to malaria treatment.

The Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) in Singapore, in collaboration with MMV and the Wellcome Trust, completes the efforts to fight malaria with research on the next generation of malaria therapies. New products will be provided to developing countries without profit. Finally, the Novartis Foundation supplements the company's malaria-related activities with the ACCESS project in Tanzania that combines malaria-specific interventions with general quality of care activities and measures to strengthen patients’ financial resources.


Publications (foundation / partner organizations)

Newsletter express No. 2/09, May 2009
Malaria - Seize the opportunity to shrink the malaria map
Download > [en] (PDF, 727.6 KB)


A joint statement by the Swiss Malaria Group - 2009
On the occasion of World Malaria Day, commemorated on 25th of April 2009
Download > [de], [en], [fr] (PDF, 229.1 KB)


Eine Zeitungsbeilage der Basler Swiss Malaria Group-Mitglieder. Published in: Basler Zeitung, Tages-Anzeiger
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Understanding and improving access to prompt and effective malaria treatment and care in rural Tanzania: the ACCESS Programme
Case study
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Obstacles to prompt and effective malaria treatment lead to low community-coverage in two rural districts of Tanzania
Research article
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Malaria treatment in the retail sector: Knowledge and practices of drug sellers in rural Tanzania
Research article
Download > [en] (PDF, 383.4 KB)


Malaria risk and access to prevention and treatment in the paddies of the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania
Research article
Download > [en] (PDF, 494.0 KB)


Sociocultural factors explaining timely and appropriate use of health facilities for degedege in Southeastern Tanzania
Research article
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Annual report 2012

The annual report 2012 of the Novartis Foundation is now available.

Order a copy or download the electronic version

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Symposium - What does it take to eliminate a disease?

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[en] (PDF, 1.2 MB)

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Project example

ACCESS - Improving access to effective malaria treatment in Tanzania