Protecting the Sahel’s children with Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention

15 Dec 2014
Africa Health

MMV discusses the strides made to protect as many children as possible from malaria in the Sahel, co-authored by Aleksandra Misiorowska and Elizabeth Poll.

In some parts of Africa, more than 60% of malaria cases occur in just 4 months of the year, during the rainy season. Around 39 million African children under 5 years of age live in these regions of defined malaria seasonality, where an estimated 152 000 die each year from malaria.1

Most of these young children live in the Sahel and sub-Sahel region, where the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and amodiaquine (SP+AQ) for those aged between 3 and 59 months in areas of high seasonal malaria transmission, where SP and AQ remain effective.2

SMC is the intermittent administration of full curative treatment courses of an antimalarial during the malaria season. It works to protect children from malaria, as the treatment courses maintain therapeutic drug concentrations in the blood throughout the period of greatest risk.

The WHO estimates that 25 million children under the age of 5 in the Sahel could be protected each year, averting 75% of malaria episodes,2 and 20 000 deaths a year.1 At the national level, SMC could also play a valuable role in helping countries reach the pre-elimination stage of control...

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  1. Cairns M, et al. Estimating the potential public health impact of seasonal malaria chemoprevention in African children. Nat Commun. 2012. 3:881.
  2. World Health Organization. ‘Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention’ (Last update: 7 August 2013)