218703 Using the Harmonized System to enhance access to essential malaria commodities: The role of internationally-standardized coding

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Richard Tren, MSc , Africa Fighting Malaria, Washington, DC
A. Elisabeth Sommerfelt, MD , Global Health, Population and Nutrition Group, Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC
Halima Mwenesi, PhD , Global Health, Population and Nutrition Group, Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC
Malaria control involves the trade of large volumes of health commodities, such as medicines, bed nets, diagnostics, insecticides, and insecticide pumps. Since many malaria-endemic countries, especially African countries, lack sufficient capacity to manufacture essential commodities themselves, they import most goods used in the treatment and control of malaria. Complex importation procedures can significantly delay the delivery of essential health goods in malaria-endemic countries. As a result, the leaders of most African countries have agreed to reduce or waive taxes and tariffs on malaria commodities in an effort to eliminate unnecessary costs and prevent delivery delays. The Harmonized System (HS), a global system of classifying commodities, provides product codes that help customs officials determine appropriate tariffs and taxes. Although the HS was designed to simplify trade, research shows that unclear and inconsistent coding of essential health goods—in part because some products have uses outside of public health—continues to complicate the importation and delivery of essential commodities to populations in need. This presentation will discuss the potential benefits of implementing a clear and predictable HS classification of tariffs for essential malaria tools. These include reduced costs, accelerated delivery, and enhanced monitoring of tariff removal progress. It will also explore the potential impact that an internationally standardized coding policy could have on key stakeholders—such as governments, regulatory agencies, public health advocates, donor agencies, stakeholders, and malaria-affected populations.

Learning Areas:
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify which taxes and tariffs are placed on malaria commodities imported into malaria-endemic countries. 2. Explain the complexities of importation procedures and how they can hinder timely and cost-effective access to essential health commodities in malaria-endemic countries. 3. Evaluate policy recommendations that call for a global system to standardize the coding procedures for malaria commodities.

Keywords: Information Systems, Access to Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the director of a non-profit health advocacy group who is published widely on the political economy of malaria control as well as on other topics of healthcare and development.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.