Saving more lives from severe malaria

12 Sep 2014
Africa Health

New evidence demonstrates the life-saving impact and feasibility of switching to injectable artesunate for the treatment of severe malaria, co-authored by Pierre Hugo and Elizabeth Poll

Around 5.6 million people fall prey to severe malaria every year, leading to an estimated 627 000 deaths, mostly of children under five years of age. The results of two large-scale clinical studies, published in 2005 and 2010, demonstrated the clear superiority of injectable artesunate for the treatment of severe malaria over quinine, the previous standard of care. In Asia, a 34.7% reduction in mortality resulted when injectable artesunate was used instead of intravenous quinine in adults, while in African children, a comparable study showed a 22.4% reduction. Based on this research, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its standard treatment guidelines in 2011, recommending injectable artesunate as the preferred treatment for severe malaria. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimates that approximately 200 000 additional lives could be saved each year if malaria-endemic countries made the switch to injectable artesunate....

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This article is co-authored by Christian Burri (Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute), Pierre Hugo (MMV), Elizabeth Poll (MMV), and Antoinette Tshefu (Kinshasa School of Public Health).