Changing the treatment protocol of malaria could save the lives of nearly 200,000 African children each year.
An important clinical trial, conducted in 2010 in nine African countries, concluded that treatment with artesunate in children with severe malaria reduces the risk of death by almost 25% compared to traditional treatment with quinine.
The evidence is overwhelming, but the change will not happen by itself. The new guidelines of the World Health Organization recommend artesunate for treating children with severe malaria in Africa, but now we need a commitment from donors and African governments.
In its report ‘Severe Malaria: change in direction’, Doctors Without Borders describes the scientific evidence that could prevent the deaths of about 200,000 children each year.
«When children arrive with convulsions, vomiting or are at risk of going into shock, they must be given an effective treatment,» said Veronique de Clerck, medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Uganda. «For decades, quinine has been used to treat severe malaria, but it is complicated to administer and is dangerous; it’s time to say goodbye. Artesunate saves more lives, it is easier to use and safer than quinine. »
Doctors Without Borders is changing their treatment protocols and is working with health authorities of the countries to expand the use of artesunate. The change must be fast to save more lives. There are no excuses for not changing now.