- Pilot trial shows suppository form of artesunate can slash severe malaria deaths
- Success down to drug formulation, better knowledge of disease also reported
- Large-scale rollout in well-functioning health systems could be ‘ground-breaking’
[KISUMU, KENYAI] A suppository form of the common antimalarial artesunate has dramatically cut child deaths from severe malaria in a trial in rural Zambia, one of the organisations behind the programme has said.
According to the WHO’s world malaria report published in 2017, three million of Zambia's entire population of nearly 17 million people were diagnosed with malaria in 2016, with about seven per cent of the cases progressing to severe malaria during which patients may become unconscious.
Children under five years old are the age group most susceptible to the severe form of the disease due to a lack of immunity. If left untreated, severe malaria can quickly become fatal.
During a 12-month trial, the suppository formulation of the common antimalarial artesunate slashed deaths from severe malaria from eight per cent to 0.25 per cent.