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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid