Monday, December 3, 2007

Ministry of Health rolls out new Malaria drugs

Ministry of Health on Thursday this week rolled out the new malaria drug replacing the Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine (SP)—Fansida and Novida’s—which has been on the market for over a decade.
Principal Secretary in the ministry of Health Chris Kang’ombe confirmed that hospitals in the country would now start dispersing the new malaria drugs—Lumefantrine-Artimeth and Amudiquint-Artesunate.
“We have officially launched the new drug the ceremony was in Mchinji,” he said.
For the past weeks, Ministry of Health has been orienting clinicians’ throughout the country on the new drug.
A clinical officer who was conducting training at the country’s major referral hospital Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) Paul Pensulo said over the referral hospital could only start dispersing the new drug after the over 600 personnel at the hospital have all undergone the training.
“QECH would not start soon because training is still underway, we are having a three day workshop for 60 clinicians, we can only start dispersing after we have finished with the training,” he said.
QECH Administrative Director Thom Chisale said his hospital is expected to roll out the new drug in January next year.
“All the trials have been finished and the drug has been approved,” he said.
Lumefantrine-Artimeth and Amudiquint-Artesunate are combinations of four drugs would replace the SPs which are no longer effective in fighting malaria.

According to internet information sourced at website Zambia was the first African country to adopt an artemisinin-based combination treatment as its national policy.

The website indicated that malaria treatment and control have been undermined by the emergence of resistance to commonly-used antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine (CQ) and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP).

“Unacceptably high resistance to commonly used antimalarial drugs prompted the choice of artemether-lumefantrine ( AL ) as first line treatment for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria.. The safety of AL has been extensively reviewed and several trials, in Africa all of them in children, have demonstrated its efficacy.

“ AL exists as a fixed tablet formulation and it has been registered in a large number of countries under the names of Coartem® or Riamet®. The fixed tablet formulation helps to overcome problems of compliance associated with non-coformulated combinations,” reads part of the website.      

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