Universal Corporation LTD (UCL), a Kenyan manufacturer, has become the first African manufacturer to receive World Health Organization quality assurance certification (pre-qualification) for an antimalarial drug used to prevent infection in pregnant women and children. Young children and women are particularly vulnerable to the malaria burden in Africa. Malaria is one of the leading causes of death in young children, accounting for 80% of all malaria deaths in Africa for children under the age of five. WHO pre-qualification assesses the quality, safety, and efficacy of pharmaceutical products.
UCL aims to provide quality medicines to the African continent that are most needed by the people. UCL is now pre-qualified for the production of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and is one of only five manufacturers in Africa to receive this quality certification for any product. Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) reported Unitaid, a Geneva-based product development company that has invested about $160 million in UCL research, helping the company to reach the pre-qualification stage. This investment is in order to provide sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine as a preventive malaria treatment for pregnant women and infants with an affordable and local reach. The pre-qualification will allow UCL to support regional malaria efforts by producing high-quality sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine locally (SP), a medicine it markets as Wiwal. Wiwal’s quality assurance of UCL’s SP product opens a procurement path that will improve access and help Africa’s ability to combat diseases.