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

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

8 hours ago

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

9 hours ago

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

12 hours ago

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

13 hours ago

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments