Recovering from severe malaria

Four-year-old Desmond Oming from Awir in northern Uganda had “serious fever with a lot of diarrhoea and vomiting”, explained his mum, Jennifer Alwin, when she brought him to Apac District Hospital.

After a lengthy wait in the crowded outpatient department, Desmond was seen by Dr Josephine Apio who suspected malaria and sent him for a blood test. The results came back positive. It was the fourth time he had suffered from malaria in his young life and this time it was severe malaria.

Uganda is a very high burden country with more than 7 million confirmed cases of malaria in 2015 alone.1 Dr Apio explained that 50 cases of severe malaria had been diagnosed at the hospital in the week Desmond was admitted.

Fortunately, Apac’s hospital is one of the 339 health-care facilities in Uganda that now receive injectable artesunate (Inj AS) for the treatment of severe malaria, through the MMV-led Improving Severe Malaria Outcomes project funded by UNITAID. Inj AS is the WHO-preferred treatment for severe malaria. This lifesaving medicine has been shown to reduce mortality by 22.5% in Africa compared to quinine.2


    1. World Health Organization. World Malaria Report 2016.
    2. Dondorp AM et al. “Artesunate versus quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in African children (AQUAMAT): an open label, randomised trial.” Lancet. 13;376(9753): 1647-57 (2010).
    3. World Health Organization. Guidelines for the treatment of malaria. Third edition.

    Photos: Elizabeth Poll/MMV & Damien Schumann