Efficacy and safety of artemisinin-based antimalarial in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in children in southern Tanzania

Kabanywanyi et al. | 11 Nov 2007
Malaria Journal
Tanzania switched the antimalarial first line to sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) in 2001 from ineffective chloroquine (CQ). By 2003 higher levels of SP resistance were recorded, prompting an urgent need for replacing the first line drug with ACT, as currently recommended by the World Health Organization. Despite this recommendation country-specific evidence-based data to support efficacy and safety profile of ACT is still limited. A study on the efficacy and safety of artesunate plus amodiaquine (AS+AQ) and artemether plus lumefantrine (AL)(Coartem(R)) was carried out in 2004 with the view of supporting the National Malaria Control Programme in the review of the policy in mainland Tanzania.

An in vivo efficacy study was conducted at Ipinda and Mlimba health facilities between May and November 2004. The study recruited children aged 6-59 months presenting with symptoms of uncomplicated malaria, history of fever or an axillary temperature [greater than or equal to]37.5oC; mono infection with Pasmodium falciparum (2,000-200,000 parasites/ul). Patients were randomized to received either SP or amodiaquine monotherapy or treated with standard doses of AS+AQ in Mlimba and Coartem in Kyela and followed-up for 28 days to assess treatment responses. This study reports results of the combination therapies.

A total of 157 children (76 in Mlimba and 99 in Kyela) who were enrolled in to the study and treated with either AL or AS+AQ were successfully followed-up. Both combinations were tolerated and effected rapid fever and parasite clearance. The crude ACPRs were 80 (87 %) and 41 (63%) for AL and AS+AQ respectively. However, after PCR adjustments the corresponding figures raised to 100% (n=86) and 93.8% (n=45) in AL and AS+AQ groups, respectively. The mean haemoglobin improved moderately from day 0 to day 28 by 1g/dl in AL and 0.4g/dl in AS+AQ treatment group and was statistically significant (p<0.001 both).

These findings provide substantial evidence that AL is highly efficacious in areas of high resistance of SP and supported the country's decision to switch from SP monotherapy to AL.

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