At-home treatment of malaria in children proving to be ineffective

A new study is showing that treating African children with malaria at home in the cities does not help. Parents are told to treat their children for malaria as soon as a fever develops, however, most fevers are not caused by malaria.

To effectively treat children with malaria, they must be treated within a day of getting sick. The study showed that children treated at home got twice as many drugs, but still didn’t do any better.

The research surrounding this topic was reported just last Tuesday in the medical journal Lancet.  It was funded by the Gates Malaria Partnership.  The study monitored more than 400 children between the ages 1 and 6 in the city of Kampala, Uganda.

mosquito-malaria1Malaria, which is spread by mosquito bites comes with the symptoms such as fever, chills, and vomiting.  These common symptoms are what doctors worry is the problem.  According to an article from the Associated Press, Dr. Tido von-Schoen Angerer of Doctors Without Borders said, “If you just go on fever, you’re over-treating so many children and you could miss other diseases by using malaria drugs.”  Von-Schoen Angerer is not linked to the study.  

Studies from the past have shown that at-home treatment works in rural areas.  However, malaria is a problem in the cities as well, but apparently needs be handled differently.  

Von-Schoen Angerer said that the recent holes in malaria treatment that were reported in Lancet are appalling.  Despite the U.N.’s efforts to stop the spread of malaria, still only 5 percent of Ugandan children properly treated for the disease.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that across Africa that number is only at 3 percent.  

According to WHO, nearly 1 million people die a year from malaria.  The U.N. and its partners are launching a $200 million program called the Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria, which would make drugs cheaper for 11 African countries.  

However, Von-Schoen Angerer and other medical personnel worry that after this study, the over-treatment of malaria will be an even bigger problem after the launch of this program.  Also, there is fear that the drug being administered by this new strategy will increase the risk of resistance against the drug.  

“The risk of resistance is very scary,” said von-Schoen Angerer, “We don’t have a back-up medicine at this stage.”  

Global Health Report also covered this story in their weekly TB/Malaria report.  Check out the article for more information on the new study.

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~ by margeincharge on April 24, 2009.

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