Saving more lives with artesunate injection

On 11 November 2011, in a meeting convened by Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), World Health Organization (WHO) and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), 11 organizations from across the field of malaria came together to discuss the challenges relating to the treatment of severe malaria to agree on a way forward and ultimately save more lives. 

In April 2011, based on new scientific evidence, the WHO guidelines were revised to recommend artesunate, delivered intravenously, as the first-line treatment for severe malaria in both adults and children. Since then, several African countries have revised their severe malaria treatment guidelines to reflect the WHO recommendation but to date, not all countries affected by malaria have adopted the new policy.

MMV worked with Guilin Pharmaceuticals to achieve WHO prequalification for its injectable artesunate, which was granted in November 2010. The challenge now is to save lives by ensuring this treatment reaches patients in the shortest possible time frame.

The message is clear and compelling: 100% of people with severe malaria could die if they are not treated quickly with an effective treatment. Injectable artesunate is easier to use, and will save more lives than the current treatment, parenteral quinine. But many other issues are slowing down improvements in severe malaria management.

This report, based on the outcomes of the Malaria Stakeholders’ Meeting in November 2011, summarizes the key issues relating to the adoption and implementation of injectable artesunate in malaria-affected regions and outlines a set of recommended actions that this group believes will help speed up access to this life saving medicine.

31 January 2012