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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid