According to the National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme, intravenous Artesunate should be used in preference for Quinine for the treatment of severe malaria in adults because of its high quality evidence.
In order to prevent death from severe malaria, health care experts have approved immediate treatment with injectable Artesunate, but only after confirmation with rapid diagnostic tests or laboratory investigation.
Consultant Medical Parasitologist/Associate Professor at the WHO Centre, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Dr. Wellington Oyibo, while speaking at a media enlightenment campaign said symptoms of severe malaria were unmistakable and could help in preventing deaths from the disease.
Citing some of the symptoms, Oyibo said severe malaria becomes manifest when a child is unable to walk or sit up without assistance, and when the child is unable to feed.
He added that other symptoms include multiple convulsions, coupled with acute dehydration, rapid breathing, coma, severe anaemia marked by pale palms and feet, and failure to pass urine for several hours.
Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme, Federal Ministry of Health also speaking at the event said since April 2011, the World Health Organisation guidelines recommended Artesunate as the preferred severe malaria treatment for children and adults.
According to her, "intravenous Artesunate should be used in preference for Quinine for the treatment of severe P. falciparummalaria in adults because of its high quality evidence”
Ezeigwe noted that though under-five mortality rate reduced from 201 per 1,000 in 2003 to 128 per 1,000 in 2013, there are approximately 208,000 deaths from malaria in Nigeria alone, 95% of which are children under 5 years old.
It was further revealed that the highest deaths from severe malaria in 2012 were recorded in Northern Nigeria, where 12 per cent of all reported cases were fatal.
This is according to statistics from the National Demographic Health Survey.
The Clinton Health Access Initiative also noted that “Nigeria now recommends injectable Artesunate as the preferred treatment for severe malaria; and a patient diagnosed with severe malaria should be treated at a secondary facility with injectable Artesunate,”
To which Ezeigwe added that a minimum of 3 doses are required to complete treatment, “as studies have shown injectables to be more effective at reducing mortality than Quinine.”