Telegraph | UK aid cuts will result in the destruction of millions of doses of life-saving drugs
By Emilie Filou
Almost 200 million doses of medicine for the treatment of neglected diseases in Africa are at risk of expiring because of foreign aid budget cuts, the Telegraph has learnt.
Many of the drugs which will be destroyed would have been used to help children fight conditions such as intestinal worms which stunt their development and disrupt their education.
The drugs were donated by their manufacturers as part of a huge programme to help the world’s poorest. Under the partnership, pharmaceutical companies manufacture and ship the drugs for free whilst donors fund their distribution in-country.
But following the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)’s announcement in April that it would withdraw £150 million of funding to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), recipient countries now have stockpiles of medicines they are unable to distribute.
The situation is particularly dire for drugs with a shorter shelf life such as praziquantel, a drug manufactured by Merck and used for the prevention and treatment of bilharzia, a debilitating condition that affects the urinary and intestinal system.
“The timing [of the cuts] and the lack of notice has really shocked us and completely thrown us off,” Johannes Waltz, head of the bilharzia programme at Merck, told the Telegraph. “65 per cent of our [drug donation] was supported by FCDO.”