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

Obama addresses West Africans on facts about Ebola

10 hours ago

President Barack Obama urged West Africans on Tuesday to wear gloves and masks when caring for Ebola patients or burying anyone who died of the disease. He also discouraged the traditional burial practice ...

Gluten-free diet benefits asymptomatic EmA+ adults

10 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Asymptomatic individuals with endomysial antibodies (EmA) benefit from a gluten-free diet (GFD), according to a study published in the September issue of Gastroenterology.

Another US health worker infected with Ebola

10 hours ago

A third American health worker has tested positive for the Ebola virus while working with patients in West Africa, the Christian missionary group SIM said Tuesday.

UN implores all countries to help on Ebola

12 hours ago

The international group Doctor Without Borders warned Tuesday that the world is 'losing the battle' against Ebola, while U.N. officials implored all countries to quickly step up their response by contributing health experts ...

Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

16 hours ago

Travel restrictions could worsen West Africa's Ebola epidemic, limiting medical and food supplies and keeping out much-needed doctors, virologists said Tuesday as the disease continued its deadly spread.

User comments