Major malaria study leads WHO to revise treatment guidelines

Major malaria study leads WHO to revise treatment guidelines
The Chinese herb qinghao (Artemisia annua), which is processed to make the drug artesunate. Credit: tonrulkens on Flickr.

The results of the largest ever clinical trial among patients hospitalised with severe malaria - the Wellcome Trust-funded AQUAMAT study - have led the World Health Organisation (WHO) to revise its guidelines for the treatment of the disease in African children.

AQUAMAT - the 'African quinine versus artesunate malaria trial' - involved researchers across Africa, working in collaboration with scientists in Thailand and the UK. The randomised, controlled trial enrolled 5425 children hospitalised with severe malaria across nine African countries. It showed a 22.5 per cent reduction in mortality among patients treated with artesunate compared to those given the standard treatment of quinine.

In line with these findings, the WHO has now changed its treatment guidelines to recommend parenteral artesunate as first-line treatment in the management of severe malaria in African children. The disease remains a major killer, with these patients accounting for 90 per cent of the one million deaths that occur annually. Changing the first-line treatment from quinine to artesunate has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of children's lives across each year.

Professor Nick White of Oxford University, who led the study, says: "The AQUAMAT trial is a very important step in reducing preventable childhood death in the tropics. It is very gratifying for the many investigators to see their research findings being turned into a globally influential policy. If implemented this will save hundreds of thousands of young lives."

The AQUAMAT team has also been shortlisted as one of the three finalists in the category of Research Paper of the Year in the prestigious British Medical Journal Awards.

Dr Jimmy Whitworth, Head of International Activities at the Wellcome Trust, adds: "This is clearly an immensely important piece of work by Nick White and colleagues and an excellent example of how multicentre research can be conducted across many countries and even continents. This has provided the rigorous evidence necessary to inform the WHO's revised guidelines and we hope this will have a dramatic effect on the lives of children across the African continent."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rectal artemisinins rapidly eliminate malarial parasites

Mar 28, 2008

Artemisinin-based suppositories can help ‘buy time’ for malaria patients who face a delay in accessing effective, injectable antimalarials, according to research published in the online open access journal BMC Infectious Di ...

Recommended for you

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

13 hours ago

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

19 hours ago

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

20 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.