Researchers on Friday said that “radical cure” is the best treatment for a type of malaria affecting 13 million people.
A team of international malaria experts, led by the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, published a study analysing the treatment of plasmodium vivax malaria.
Plasmodium vivax is the most common cause of recurring malaria, affecting more than 13 million people every
year with 40 per cent of the world’s population at risk of infection.
Researchers uncovered evidence of vivax malaria becoming resistant to standard treatment with chloroquine, a problem exacerbated by the plasmodium vivax parasite’s tendency to lie dormant in the liver for long periods before causing recurrent infections.
“This analysis of more than 5,000 patients from 37 studies… is the largest individual patient data meta-analysis of plasmodium vivax clinical trials to date,” Rob Commons, a member of the team from the Menzies School of Health Research, said in a media release on Friday.
“Our results show chloroquine is currently given in lower doses than recommended, with as many as 35 per cent of patients in trials given less than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended 25 mg per kg.
“We also know from our analysis that these patients are more likely to fail treatment.”
If left untreated, plasmodium vivax malaria leads to severe disease and death.
“The study highlights the need for clinicians in affected areas to provide radical cure to kill the blood and liver stage of the vivax parasite and ensure patients can recover quickly.
“We also want to prevent transmission of the parasite to other people and reduce the global burden of this disease,” Commons said.