A simple switch from quinine to artesunate could potentially save 200000 lives in Africa in the coming year.
Considered more effective and safer than quinine, artesunate is particularly effective in children, who respond to the new drug much more quickly. While quinine is administered intravenously three times a day in a drip that can take up to 4 hours, artesunate can be given in just 4 minutes, relieving both patient and staff burdens. Also, due to the complexities of administering quinine, children are almost four times more likely to die before even receiving treatment.
The struggles in initiating the switch arise from cost: the difference between the two drugs is roughly $31 million per year. Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the World Health Organization are petitioning African governments to change their treatment protocols and are encouraging donors to voice their support.
Every year malaria kills over 600 000 African children under the age of 5. For more information, visit www.msf.ca.
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Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
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