The Lancet Publishes New Findings Showing 30% Reduction in Babies Under 12 Months Using a WHO-Recommended Approach, but few African Countries Have Adopted it
BARCELONA , Spain , Sept. 17 /CNW/ - A third (30%) of malaria cases can be avoided in African infants using a safe, affordable and simple tool called Intermittent Preventive Treatment of malaria in Infants (IPTi) with the medicine sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), which can be delivered alongside existing childhood vaccination programmes.(i) Results of a meta-analysis examining six clinical trials in Africa for the malaria intervention which the World Health Organization already recommends are published online today in the medical journal, The Lancet. Research experts say if IPTi-SP were expanded in other African countries, 6 million cases of malaria could be prevented each year in those most vulnerable to the disease.(ii,iii)
"These results confirm the potential for IPTi using SP, which can be easily and rapidly implemented via existing WHO immunisation programmes, saving tens of thousands of lives every year across Africa ", commented Dr Pedro Alonso , a principal investigator and head of the Secretariat at the Barcelona Centre for International Health Research, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona , Spain . "IPTi provides a valuable addition to efforts to fight malaria and so international policy-makers and heads of national Malaria Control Programmes should consider its immediate adoption and integration into existing programmes," he added.
Organised by the IPTi Consortium and supporting partners - a unique collaboration of more than 20 organisations in Africa , Europe and the United States - the pooled analysis of six randomised, placebo-controlled trials of IPTi-SP in Africa provides the best evidence to date that this approach is effective in preventing malaria in infants. The study analysed results from nearly 8,000 infants, in four African countries, over nine years, between 1999-2008. The efficacy results were re-analysed by the statistician of each of the six trials, and an independent panel made up of experts in safety and pharmacovigilance in Africa conducted an analysis of the safety. The IPTi Consortium is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Malaria represents an important public health burden in Africa , disproportionately affecting the youngest and most vulnerable. Of the 247 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2006, 86% occurred in Africa .(ii) African infants are most at risk of the worst forms of malaria, every 30 seconds an African child dies from malaria.(iv)
IPTi is the administration of an anti-malarial tablet to infants, two or three times in the first year of life, deliverable alongside established vaccination programmes such as WHO's Expanded Programme for Immunisation. It is inexpensive (each dose costs between USD $0.13 - $0.23 )(v,vi) and cost effective. IPTi with SP has been reviewed by a committee of the US National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization's Technical Expert Group - these committees recommend that it should be considered for implementation in areas of moderate to high levels of malaria transmission and low to moderate levels of parasite resistance to SP.(vii,viii)
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