The African continent will take a step in the right direction when celebrating Africa Malaria Day on Thursday. A South African-based doctor will present research conducted in Mozambique to the Royal College of Physicians in Britain on the most effective malaria treatment developed to date. Dr Stephen Toovey, medical director of Netcare Travel Clinics in South Africa, will brief the British medical community on Thursday, April 25 - Africa Malaria Day. Toovey and a colleague, Dr Andrew Jamieson, published the results of their study in the British Medical Journal earlier this month.
They tested the new medicine, called co-artemether, which is a combination of two Chinese drugs (artemether-lumefantrine), on 75 malaria patients in Mozambique and achieved a 100 percent success rate. Toovey stressed that co-artemether was not a preventative drug, but a treatment for when malaria had been contracted. A full treatment for one patient will cost about R180.
Toovey said clinical trials of an advanced vaccine for prevention, focusing on children under the age of five, were also underway in Mozambique. The research was being conducted by a United States-based non-profit organisation and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals (GSK Biologicals). Toovey cautioned that the development of co-artemether should not steer people away from using preventative medicine when travelling to high-risk areas. He said it was a myth that one should refrain from taking malaria tablets as they masked the symptoms. He said those who stayed in malaria areas were not fully immune to the illness either.
Malaria kills more than one million people each year (about 3 000 per day) and at least 300-million suffer from acute malaria annually, according to the Africa Malaria Day website. Most of the victims are children and nine out of 10 cases occur in Africa south of the Sahara. Pregnant women are also more likely to contract malaria, and a pregnant woman suffering from malaria is more prone to develop anaemia that increases the risk of death. A global partnership, aimed at halving the world's malaria burden by 2010, Roll Back Malaria, was created at the first malaria summit in Abuja, Nigeria on April 25, 2000. (Source: SAPA, 23 April 2002)