Prolonged malaria treatment shown to save children’s lives
Bjarne Robberstad was part of an international team of researchers who undertook a large randomly controlled trial (RCT) in Kenya and Uganda. The results are now published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study results showed that children with serious anaemia who received additional, longer-term (3 months) treatment were less likely to die or to be re-admitted to the hospital. It involved over 1000 children recruited from 9 hospitals in Kenya and Uganda.
In many parts of Africa, including Kenya and Uganda, malaria is endemic. Children with malaria are at high risk of dying both during the acute phase of the disease, while they are at the hospital, but also for several months after they leave hospital. While management of malaria and severe anaemia follow well-established protocols when patients are in the hospital, there is not systematic follow-up established for the post discharge period.
This study evaluated whether it is safe and efficacious to routinely treat children recovering from severe malaria by giving them antimalarial drugs during the first three months after their discharge from hospital. The children were randomly assigned to either receive additional treatment or a placebo. The results showed that the additional treatment was highly effected and resulted in a 35% lower incidence of death or re-admission.