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Scientists evaluate impact of preemptive malaria treatment for infants

ness of IPTi, consortium members recently launched a broad "implementation study" in Tanzania to assess the safety and effectiveness of IPTi by making it available through routine health services in five rural districts in Southern Tanzania. This study will provide more in depth analysis of the treatment's ability to prevent malaria in children, generate experience with implementing the IPTi strategy, and help determine whether widespread use of IPTi would risk accelerating parasite resistance to malaria drugs. Similar large-scale implementation studies coordinated through UNICEF are soon to begin in six African countries.

"The IPTi consortium offers an instructive model for how quickly scientists can achieve results if they have the funding and the networks to aggressively pursue malaria research in Africa," said Andreas Heddini, the MIM Secretariat coordinator. "There are many other areas of malaria research that could benefit from a similar level of support and coordination."

Background to the Ghana Trial

Last month, researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Ghana's Kintampo and Navrongo Health Research Centers reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on a study involving 2400 infants that found that, for children up to 15 months old, preventive treatment reduced malaria by 25 percent and anemia by 20 percent.

After the end of the intervention there was evidence of an increased rate of malaria episodes with a higher density of malaria parasites in children who had received the drug compared to those who had been given a placebo. However, this effect was not associated with a significant increase in clinical symptoms of malaria, anemia or hospital admissions.

While the trial showed that IPTi can protect children from malaria, the 25 percent reduction observed was substantially lower than the 59 percent reduction in clinical malaria achieved by IPTi in an earlier stud
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17-Nov-2005


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