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Cahiers d'études et de recherches francophones / Santé

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Antimalarial drugs and their directions for use in the African environment Volume 10, issue 6, Novembre - Décembre 2000

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Faculté des sciences de la santé, Bangui, République centrafricaine.
  • Page(s) : 425-33
  • Published in: 2001

In the tropical African environment, malaria is both a major public health problem and a problem of socioeconomic development. It is caused by various agents, the most virulent and only lethal one of which is Plasmodium falciparum. This parasite is controlled by the appropriate use of antimalarial drugs and methods of individual and collective protection. The principal drugs used to treat bouts of malaria without vomiting caused by P. falciparum are amino-4-quinoleines, essentially chloroquine. This is based on the level of resistance of P. falciparum to drugs in most African countries, particularly those of Central and West Africa. Malawi is the only country of southern Africa to have replaced chloroquine by sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for this indication, in 1993. In cases of bouts of benign malaria with vomiting, but that are not serious, and severe malaria caused by P. falciparum (suspected or confirmed) with or without drug resistance, quinine should be given intravenously for at least three days. Once the patient regains consciouness or the digestive problems cease, quinine treatment should be given orally for 5 to 7 days. Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine can be given as an alternative to quinine. The other antimalarial drugs currently on the African market (halofantrine, mefloquine, artemisinine and its derivatives) are often used inappropriately and should be used only in exceptional cases of severe bouts of complicated P. falciparum malaria, with suspected or confirmed resistance to amino-4-quinoleines. Individual protection against the Anopheles mosquito, the principal vector of malaria in Africa, is based largely on the use of mosquito nets impregnated with pyrethroid insecticide and the use of aerosols. Collective protection involves essentially environment-based measures.