Malaria screening unsuccessful in some schools

A school-based intermittent screening and treatment program for malaria in rural coastal Kenya had no benefits on the health and education of school children, according to a study by international researchers published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

The study, led by Katherine Halliday and Simon Brooker from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, included over 5000 children from 101 government schools. Half of the schools were randomized to receive the intermittent screening and treatment programme—screening once a school term for parasites using a rapid diagnostic test followed by treatment with the anti-malarial drug artemether-lumefantrine for all children who tested positive for malaria parasitaemia (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic) .

During the intervention period, almost 90% of children in classes 1 and 5 of the intervention schools were screened at each round, of whom 17.5% tested RDT-positive for malaria. However, the authors found that there was no difference at 12 and 24 months between the proportion of children with anemia and the proportion of children who tested positive for malaria parasites in the intervention and control groups. And at 9 and 24 months, there was also no difference in class attention scores between the two groups.

The authors say: "In contrast to the beneficial impact of previous school-based malaria control our findings show there are no health or education of implementing school-based intermittent screening and treatment programs with artemether-lumefantrine in a low to moderate transmission setting such as this study site."

The authors add: "Nevertheless, our results do highlight a potential role for schools as screening platforms whereby pockets of high transmission can be identified for targeted malaria control"

In an accompanying Perspective, Lorenz von Seidlein, from the Menzies School of Health Research in Casuarina, Australia, discusses the reasons that the program was unsuccessful and the wider issues involved in failure of screening and treating as a malaria elimination strategy. He suggests: "After other approaches have failed perhaps an evaluation of strategies based on presumptive treatment of targeted populations should now have the highest priority?"

More information: Halliday KE, Okello G, Turner EL, Njagi K, Mcharo C, et al. (2014) Impact of Intermittent Screening and Treatment for Malaria among School Children in Kenya: A Cluster Randomised Trial. PLoS Med 11(1): e1001594. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001594

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Low-dose treatment may block malaria transmission

Nov 14, 2013

Lower doses of the antimalarial drug primaquine are as effective as higher doses in reducing malaria transmission, according to a study published today in Lancet Infectious Diseases by London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medici ...

Recommended for you

US warns Ebola could infect 1.4 million by 2015

1 hour ago

The number of Ebola infections in Liberia and Sierra Leone could skyrocket to 1.4 million by January 2015, according to a worst-case scenario released by US health authorities Tuesday.

Team finds method for more precise diagnosis of pneumonia

2 hours ago

A patient survives life-threatening trauma, is intubated in the intensive care unit (ICU) to support his or her affected vital functions, starts to recover, and then develops pneumonia. It's a scenario well-known to physicians, ...

Screen women for chlamydia, gonorrhea, experts say

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—All sexually active women should be screened for two of the most common sexually transmitted infections: chlamydia and gonorrhea, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services ...

Noninvasive devices may help migraines, FDA says

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Two new prescription devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may provide some relief for people with migraine headaches who don't tolerate migraine medications well, ...

User comments