Existing antimalarial agents and malaria-treatment strategies
In the absence of prompt and efficacious treatment, malaria patients may progress within a few hours from having minor symptoms to severe disease and death. These last years have seen the development of several artemisinin-based combinations, new treatments for severe malaria patients, and new strategies such as intermittent preventive treatment or the home-based/near-home management of malaria. The health sector is now confronted with several treatment options and strategies, in contrast with the period when chloroquine monotherapy was the standard treatment. The major challenge remains the large-scale deployment, in the most efficient way, of the tools available today, including artemisinin-based combination treatments, within health systems that remain extremely weak in malaria endemic countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Health system research, exploring new potential approaches for the large-scale implementation of these interventions, should be promoted in parallel with that on new therapeutic agents to be used in the unlucky event of the emergence and spread of artemisinin resistance. The prospects of substantially decreasing the malaria burden are brighter today than 20 - 30 years ago, but the efforts and resources committed to this purpose should be maintained over a long period.
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