Research Article: Impact of Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapy and Insecticide-Treated Nets on Malaria Burden in Zanzibar

Date Published: November 6, 2007

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Achuyt Bhattarai, Abdullah S Ali, S. Patrick Kachur, Andreas Mårtensson, Ali K Abbas, Rashid Khatib, Abdul-wahiyd Al-mafazy, Mahdi Ramsan, Guida Rotllant, Jan F Gerstenmaier, Fabrizio Molteni, Salim Abdulla, Scott M Montgomery, Akira Kaneko, Anders Björkman, Nicholas White

Abstract: BackgroundThe Roll Back Malaria strategy recommends a combination of interventions for malaria control. Zanzibar implemented artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for uncomplicated malaria in late 2003 and long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) from early 2006. ACT is provided free of charge to all malaria patients, while LLINs are distributed free to children under age 5 y (“under five”) and pregnant women. We investigated temporal trends in Plasmodium falciparum prevalence and malaria-related health parameters following the implementation of these two malaria control interventions in Zanzibar.Methods and FindingsCross-sectional clinical and parasitological surveys in children under the age of 14 y were conducted in North A District in May 2003, 2005, and 2006. Survey data were analyzed in a logistic regression model and adjusted for complex sampling design and potential confounders. Records from all 13 public health facilities in North A District were analyzed for malaria-related outpatient visits and admissions. Mortality and demographic data were obtained from District Commissioner’s Office. P. falciparum prevalence decreased in children under five between 2003 and 2006; using 2003 as the reference year, odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were, for 2005, 0.55 (0.28–1.08), and for 2006, 0.03 (0.00–0.27); p for trend < 0.001. Between 2002 and 2005 crude under-five, infant (under age 1 y), and child (aged 1–4 y) mortality decreased by 52%, 33%, and 71%, respectively. Similarly, malaria-related admissions, blood transfusions, and malaria-attributed mortality decreased significantly by 77%, 67% and 75%, respectively, between 2002 and 2005 in children under five. Climatic conditions favorable for malaria transmission persisted throughout the observational period.ConclusionsFollowing deployment of ACT in Zanzibar 2003, malaria-associated morbidity and mortality decreased dramatically within two years. Additional distribution of LLINs in early 2006 resulted in a 10-fold reduction of malaria parasite prevalence. The results indicate that the Millennium Development Goals of reducing mortality in children under five and alleviating the burden of malaria are achievable in tropical Africa with high coverage of combined malaria control interventions.

Partial Text: The increased malaria-related morbidity and mortality, especially in children under the age of 5 y (“under five”), due to emerging resistance of Plasmodium falciparum to conventional antimalarial drugs calls for immediate actions to “Roll Back Malaria” in sub-Saharan Africa. This need has been clearly recognized in the Millennium Development Goals “to halt and begin to reverse malaria incidence” [1] as well as in the Abuja Declaration objective to halve malaria mortality in Africa by 2010 through implementation of combined control strategies [2].

Malaria burden in Zanzibar, as in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, has remained high and in many areas even increased during the last 10–20 y, a major reason being rapid spread of resistance to commonly used monotherapies against malaria. This problem has necessitated urgent implementation of new and effective control strategies to “Roll Back Malaria.” Two main cornerstones in this effort are the introduction of ACTs for treatment of uncomplicated malaria and the promotion of ITN use. The targets for the implementation of these new strategies have been defined by the UN Millennium Development Goals [1] and the Abuja Declaration [2], to be achieved by the years 2015 and 2010, respectively.



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