News / Health

Trial: Malaria Chemoprevention Protects Children

A girl waits at Bossangoa hospital, where medics are treating a high number of children for malaria, malnutrition, anaemia and violence-related injuries inlcuding gunshot wounds, Nov. 9, 2013 (Hanna McNeish for VOA.)
A girl waits at Bossangoa hospital, where medics are treating a high number of children for malaria, malnutrition, anaemia and violence-related injuries inlcuding gunshot wounds, Nov. 9, 2013 (Hanna McNeish for VOA.)
Jessica Berman
The non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontieres, has launched a new, malaria prevention campaign in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa aimed at protecting the illnesses' most vulnerable population - children under the age of five.  During the campaigns at the height of malaria season - from July to October - young children will be offered so-called chemoprevention drugs.  
Small children are at highest risk of dying from malaria, a mosquito-borne parasitic illness that claimed the lives of some three-quarters of a million people in 2012, most of them children and babies in sub-Saharan Africa.  
Malaria

-About 3.3 billion people, half the world's population, are at risk of malaria
-People living in the poorest sub-tropical and tropical countries are the most susceptible
-Caused by mosquito-borne parasite
-Killed 627,000 people in 2012, mostly African children
-Kills by restricting blood flow to vital organs
-Symptoms include fever, headache and vomiting

Source: WHO
Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, is planning to roll out mass seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaigns, known as SMCs, in the Sahel sub-region to prevent new cases of the disease in countries where malaria is widespread.  These nations include Senegal, Gambia, Niger, Burkino Faso and Mali.

In a 2013 SMC trial in Niger, the organization treated more than 200,000 children between the ages of three and 59 months with chemoprevention drugs.

Trials of the chemoprevention strategy in the last two years have shown a reduction of up to 83 percent in simple malaria cases; there's a similar percentage reduction in the number of cases of severe malaria.

Estrella Lasry, tropical medicine adviser for the group, says the campaign was launched at the urging of the World Health Organization.
Malaria mortality rates, by age groups, 2000-2012Malaria mortality rates, by age groups, 2000-2012
x
Malaria mortality rates, by age groups, 2000-2012
Malaria mortality rates, by age groups, 2000-2012
"And what we do is we give drugs once a month that protect and they protect the children for about a month during those four months of high transmission," said Lasry.

In Niger, during a trial in 2013, the anti-malaria compounds were made available in remote locations at health facilities, in the homes of village chiefs and in areas where public health workers go door-to-door.

The organization deployed some 2,000 community health care workers to educate families about the benefits of chemoprevention and to encourage them to take their children to a distribution site.

Lasry says MSF chemoprevention campaigns do not use artemisinin-based drugs that are currently the "gold standard" to treat malaria infection.

"We try to use different drugs so that even if we can potentially cause resistance, we are not causing resistance to the most effective drugs we have for treatment," she said.

If they find malaria in any of the children, Lasry says they treat it.  But she says there's a shortage of rapid diagnostic tests in Niger, for example, hampering efforts to treat malaria in endemic regions.

While not a "miracle cure," officials say prevention drugs complement other malaria control strategies, including insecticide-treated bed nets.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid