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Govt to Introduce New Malaria Drug

The Ministry of Health has announced plans to introduce a new method of treating severe malaria.

Currently, persons diagnosed with severe malaria are treated with three doses of injectable artesunate followed by a full dose of Artemether-Lumedantrine (AL) with sold under common brand names such as coartem and lumarteme. A complete dose comprises of 12 oral tablets. This treatment according to doctors offers protection to a patient for 14 days.

But the health officials say they now want to replace Artemether-Lumedantrine(AL) with Dihydroartmetisinin- Piperaquine(DP) as a first line drug for patients being treated for severe malaria.

They say the drug offers protection against malaria for up to 30 days. Three tablets of DP are swallowed once a day for three days.

Dr Jimmy Opigo, the assistance commissioner in charge of the malaria control program says dihydroartemisinin will give patients with severe forms of malaria better protection.

At discharge, the patients will be given an additional dose of DP to make sure that discharged patients are protected against the disease for at least two months.

Data from the health ministry shows that annually, Uganda records on average 11 million cases of malaria. Last year, over 14 million cases were reported with 747,500 cases being severe. From the severe cases, over 10,000 deaths were recorded.

Opigo says the change will help reduce deaths and re-admissions associated with the disease.

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“Right now, we know that 30 percent of the cases admitted with severe malaria die after they are discharged while 70 percent end up being re-admitted for malaria weeks after being discharged. This endangers the life of the patient,” he said.

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