Artemisinin-based combination treatment for malaria remains most effective – Epidemiologist

Research Scientists have affirmed that the Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT), for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria still remains the most effective first-line treatment drug for the deadly disease.

Analysis conducted by scientists at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) showed 99.2 per cent efficacy for Artesunate-Amodiaquine and 96 per cent for the Artesunate-Lumefantrine — the combined therapy for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in endemic countries including Ghana.

Dr Benjamin Abuakwa, an Epidemiologist at the NMIMR told journalists from the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), at a forum with the researchers at the Institute to mark World Malaria Day on Thursday that the efficacy level for Artesunate-Amodiaquine was 100 per cent and 97.5 per cent for Artesunate-Amodiaquine during the change over from Chloroquine to the ACT in 2003.

He assured that the slight reduction in the efficacy level was insignificant to raise any eyebrows over possible drug resistance.

Dr Abuakwa said researchers were closely monitoring the efficacy of the drug in the population, from the 10 sentinel sites across the country to pick early signs.

“We have started looking at the genes in the Ghanaian population, we have not seen any gene change like in South East Asia,” Dr Nancy Quashie, Head of the Epidemiology Department of the Institute added.

Drug resistance to the Chloroquine led to a major change over to ACTs in 2003 in all endemic countries, including Ghana where malaria which is caused by the female anopheles mosquito continued to be the leading cause of death, especially among children under five years and pregnant women.

Ghana is strengthening prevention and control measures to reach the elimination stage, following successes in the decline of the incidence of the disease in the country. 

“Zero Malaria Stars with Me” is the official global theme for this year’s World Malaria Day marked on Thursday, and it is designed to remind people across the globe that they have the power and personal responsibility to take actions that will protect families and communities from malaria and the importance of holding government to account.

Professor Abraham Kwabena Anang, Director of the NMIMR, earlier in a welcome address, told the journalists that the Institute had conducted research into malaria whose recommendations had contributed significantly to influencing government’s position on malaria control and other interventions to reduce the disease burden on the population.

He hinted that Noguchi was working assiduously to develop a vaccine that would fast track Ghana’s vision to totally eradicate malaria from the country.

According to Professor Anang, the research would eventually the mosquito parasite not having any harmful effect on human who are bitten by the disease carrying mosquito.

Making a presentation on the topic: “NMIMR Malaria Research: The achievements so far towards the control of malaria in Ghana,” Dr Michael Fokuo Ofori, a Senior Research Fellow of the NMIMR, said 219 million new cases of malaria with 266, 000 deaths mostly in children and pregnant women for which the Africa region accounted for 92 percent of all the new cases reported yearly.

The Executive Director of AMMREN, Dr Charity Binka, stressed on the need for effective collaboration between scientists and Journalists in the fight against malaria.

Dr Charity Binka, stressed the need for patients to observe the cardinal principles of Test, Treat and Track otherwise known as the 3Ts since not all cases of having fever or other symptoms that mimic malaria were indeed malaria related.

“A patient must take note of the 3Ts if they are to get the requisite treatment for malaria and not just go to a pharmacy shop to buy across the counter malaria drug,” she said.

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman and Norman Cooper

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