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ANNOUNCEMENTS:::

TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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  • Volume 1

Flavours do the trick

It is unreasonable to talk about swallowing bitter pills when dealing with children. Everyone knows that. And so when a drug manufacturer goes round this problem and invents an idea that works, it is obvious that the project stands a chance of success.

Guided by this philosophy, Novartis Pharma in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) launched the flavoured dispersible drug, Coartem, an artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for children.

A few years down the line, a survey has shown that the drug has been so well received among children. It has indeed reached 100 million children in three years. “Never before have 100 million paediatric treatments been distributed in such a short time frame to assist children suffering from malaria,” said David Reddy, the MMV Chief Executive Officer.

ACT has been advocated as the therapy of choice to handle widespread drug resistance in plasmodium falciparum malaria, at the same time preventing resurgence of the disease, a problem associated with monotherapy.

Trials in 39 African countries confirmed the notion that producing a “child-friendly” anti-malarial formulation can greatly reduce deaths and push the global effort to control malaria among its most susceptible victims.

“My son usually vomits every drug administered to him,” said Jacinta Atieno from Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. “But this particular one is different. I think he likes the flavour in it,” said the mother of three, referring to the dispersible Coartem.

Parents in general say that it is easier to administer a drug in liquid form to children than giving a tablet. “When it disperses, it becomes a kind of syrup, making it easy for children to swallow,” said Jacinta.

According to Dr Nathan Mulure, the Africa Operations Manager, Malaria Initiative, at Novartis Pharma, the flavour helps to overcome the situation where a child vomits part of the drug upon taking it.

“Though many things are taken into consideration during clinical trials for any given drug to ensure that the efficacy is up to date, I have observed that the taste of any drug plays a huge role not only in children, but also in adults,” said Moses Makokha, a Clinical Officer, working at the Alupe Hospital in Western Kenya a highly malaria endemic area.

“Children are the most affected by ‘bad’ flavours because they vomit after tasting the bitterness of the drug, a fact that reduces the recommended dosage. This leads to under-dosing which might easily lead to drug resistance,” he said.

However, he is quick to point out that the flavoured drugs might as well be a reason for kids to steal drugs and chew them, something that might also pose a danger to the kids. “All drugs flavoured or not, must be kept safely, beyond the reach of children.”

To boost the uptake of malarial drugs, the Global Fund in collaboration with different governments has implemented a co-funding facility that makes them affordable to those who mostly need them.

Coartem dispersible is one of the drugs distributed to selected countries through the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm).

The AMFm system was launched as a financing mechanism designed to accelerate access to the most effective treatment for malaria using ACTs.

In Kenya for example, a dose for adults for any drug distributed through the AMFm system costs approximately Sh40 ($0.5) a dose, instead of six dollars, which is beyond reach especially for the poor people who live on less than a dollar per day. The dose for children is four times cheaper.

According to the WHO, young children in Africa are disproportionately affected by malaria, with 86 per cent of malaria deaths occurring in children under the age of five.

“Children are the most vulnerable to malaria. Developing effective paediatric treatment gives hope of a healthier life to millions of the world's poorest children,” said Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary of State for International Development, UK.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says malaria kills a child somewhere in the world every 30 seconds. The disease also contributes greatly to anaemia among children — a major cause of poor growth and development.

Unfortunately, according to UNICEF, many children, especially in Africa, continue to die from malaria as they do not sleep under insecticide-treated nets and are unable to access life-saving treatment within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.

- By Isaiah Esipisu-Kenya
 

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