Challenges Associated with Scaling up Artemisinin Combination Therapy in Sub-Saharan Africa ; A Review Article.



Njuguna J 1, Qader SS 2

1-Department of Health Sciences, Lund University, Malmِ, Sweden and Nyandarua District Public Health Office, P.O. Box 86-20300, Nyahururu, Kenya. 2-Department of Clinical Science, CRC (UMAS), Lund University, SE-20502 Malmِ, Sweden. and Department of Surgery, Hawler Medical University, Erbil, Iraq

Libyan J Med AOP: 071204


Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa. One key strategic intervention is provision of early diagnosis and prompt effective treatment. A major setback has been the development of drug resistance to commonly used antimalarials. To overcome this, most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have adopted Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) as a first line treatment for uncomplicated malaria. Artemether Lumefantrine (AL) and Artesunate Amodiaquine (ASAQ) are the main drugs of choice. There are key implementation issues, which may have a bearing on the scaling up of this new treatment. This article reviewed the published papers on ACT with focus on sustainability, compliance, and diagnosis.
ACTs are costly, but highly effective. Their scaling up is the most cost effective malaria intervention currently available. Most countries rely heavily on the Global Fund for their scaling up. AL has a short shelf life, a complicated six-dose regimen that requires intake with fat to ensure sufficient bioavailability. High rates of adherence have been reported. Use of parasitic diagnosis is advocated to ensure rational use. Parasitic diagnostics like rapid test and microscopy are currently inadequate. The majority of malaria cases may continue to be diagnosed clinically leading to over prescription of drugs. ACTs are currently not available at the community level for home based management of malaria. Issues related to safety and rational use need to be addressed before their use in the informal health sector like community drug sellers and community health workers. The majority of malaria cases at the community level could go untreated or continue to be treated using less effective drugs.
We conclude that ACTs are highly effective. A major challenge is ensuring rational use and access at the household level. It is hoped that addressing these issues will increase the likelihood that ACT achieves its intended goals of reducing morbidity and mortality due to malaria, and delaying the onset of drug resistance.

Keywords: artemisinin combination therapy; antimalaria; Sub-Saharan Africa; malaria; plasmodium