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New malaria treatment administered by tongue unveiled

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A combination malaria treatment of Artemether and Lumefantrine: In the study done in Rwanda, British scientists have developed a technology for treating malaria in children using Artemether.

Kigali: A new malaria treatment method is due on the market which will involve administering the drug Artemether under the tough – allowing quick recovery of children within 24 hours, according to a study released Wednesday in Kigali.

The method ‘ArTiMist™’ is simply giving malaria medicine to children through the sublingual route or under the tongue. There are a few drugs on the market that are placed under the tongue (taken sublingually) so that they can be absorbed directly into the small blood vessels that lie beneath the tongue.

Mr. Calvin Ross and his team of scientists found that the sublingual delivery technology was not only quick for the malaria infested body to absorb, but it is even cheaper compared to Quinine treatment – which has been used for decades.

The technology was developed by the British firm Eastland Medical Systems Ltd in conjunction with its UK clinical consultants ProtoPharma Limited.

The researcher said Wednesday in a statement that the technology was specifically designed to provide a rapid first line treatment of children with severe or complicated P. falciparum malaria, or uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria with gastrointestinal complications.

The majority of deaths from severe malaria in young children are caused by the delayed administration of effective malaria treatments, the researchers said.

“Moreover, oral treatment is not adequate for patients who are suffering from vomiting and diarrhea and oral absorption (tablets) is slower and often not possible. It is a fact that many deaths occur due to delays in transferring a patient to a hospital setting where trained staff are on hand.”

The new technology tested on 30 children here in Kigali, the firms behind says, is the ideal control mechanism for malaria in poor countries such as Rwanda.

Typically a family must provide for all food and travel costs as they ferry children to hospitals, say the researchers.

“During hospitalisation (typically 7 days) families must also provide food and pay hospital and treatment fees at the time of treatment. Many impoverished families cannot afford these costs and various studies have demonstrated that high out-of-pocket medical spending can plunge the families further into poverty”.

Compared to Quinine which is recommended by the World Health Organisation, the scientists say the new treatment is much cheaper. For a sick child to recover, the researchers estimate that between 7 and 10 Quinine ampoules are used over a period of about 60 hours until possible resumption of oral therapy, which are actually not the real costs. 

“For a local healthcare system, overall treatment cost per patient is high as these are acute patients and the associated financial and human resources required to care for them are considerable,” according to the researchers.

The companies behind the technology say ArTiMist™ has been developed to manage the unmet and specific needs of children described as a “highly vulnerable patient group”.

The market for ArTiMist™ will surely be large. Available figures show an estimated over 90 million children under the age of 5 Africa at “high risk” of contracting malaria.



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