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Scientists evaluate impact of preemptive malaria treatment for infants

Yaound, Cameroon (17 November 2005)--Administering malaria medicines preemptively to infants in malaria endemic regions has emerged as a potentially effective way to protect young children from the ravages of the disease. Children account for the majority of malaria deaths.

Leading scientists from an ambitious international consortium charged with evaluating the potential of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Infants (IPTi) will explore the results of a recent clinical trial in Ghana and preliminary evidence from other IPTi research underway in Africa. IPTi has the potential to become a major tool for malaria control in Africa as it may be delivered at the time of routine childhood vaccination--through the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI)--which increases the chance of long-term sustainability.

Researchers will discuss these topics at a special IPTi symposium to be held at this week's Fourth Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Malaria Conference. (Thursday, 9:00 a.m., Mongosi Hall, Symposium 14) The symposium comes on the heels of last month's publication of results from the Ghana trial, which showed for the first time that IPTi can be effective at preventing malaria in areas of intense and highly seasonal transmission.

"What we have at the moment is a new prevention strategy that has shown clear potential," said Andrea Egan, coordinator of the IPTi Consortium. "The IPTi Consortium was formed to enable researchers to investigate the questions that need to be resolved if IPTi is to become a widely used tool for fighting malaria. The MIM symposium is a timely opportunity to discuss the results from the Ghana trial and other IPTi studies with the international malaria research and control communities. We aim to balance what we know is an urgent demand for new malaria prevention strategies with the need for clear evidence of safety and effectiveness in multiple settings."

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