Preventive antimalarials for school-age children may be the key to revive progress against the disease across Africa, The Telegraph reports.
A first-of-its-kind Lancet Global Health study of 15,000 school-age children found that preventive drugs led to a 46% drop in malaria prevalence:
- Subsequent clinical malaria cases fell 50%
- Cases of anemia—triggered by the malaria parasite—dropped 15%
- School performance improved among under-10s
Currently WHO recommends preventive treatment for pregnant women, infants, and young children in sub-Saharan Africa, but not for school-age children, notes an accompanying commentary.
This study suggests that in-school preventative treatments, alongside widespread use of insecticide-treated bed-nets and a vaccine, is the key to re-accelerating progress.
“The low lying fruit, as such, has already been picked,” says lead author Matthew Chico of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.