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MeTA aims to save 10.5m lives

The Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander, has launched a new global health alliance to tackle some of the biggest medical problems facing developing countries
The Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander, has launched a new global health alliance to tackle some of the biggest medical problems facing developing countries.

It is hoped that the Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA), a collaborative effort involving the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Bank and international governments and agencies, will save 10.5m lives per year by 2015. Almost a third of all medicines available in developing countries are fakes and a third of malaria drugs sold in six African countries included in a study do not contain the right level of active ingredient or did not dissolve properly.

"Too many people die needlessly because they can't get the medications they need," said Alexander. "MeTA will provide citizens, healthcare workers and others with information to challenge corruption, excessive pricing and waste. We now have a common approach and, by working together, millions of lives could be saved."

Agencies involved in the creation of the new initiative have said that increasing the level of transparency in the distribution of pharmaceutical products in the developing world is crucial to improving the quality of healthcare. It also hopes to improve access to information about drugs.

The poorest sectors of the population in these countries are usually the hardest hit. In some cases, healthcare workers do not buy sufficient quantities of drugs because of a lack of funding and organisation. Problems with distribution and theft of medicines are affecting medicine access in developing countries.

Andreas Seiter, senior health specialist - pharmaceuticals - for the World Bank, said the agency is "looking forward to contributing to the success of MeTA, keeping in mind the ultimate goal of improving access to effective, safe and affordable medicines."

15th May 2008

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