Trade Resources Industry Views Chinese Anti-Malaria Drug Popular in Tanzania

Chinese Anti-Malaria Drug Popular in Tanzania

Young Masamba Issa has just clocked 13 years. The girl who almost lost her battle against malaria in 2008, is now a healthy five feet two inches tall form two student at Boko secondary school in Dar es Salaam.

"I had given up when medical doctors told me that she was not responding to medication positively, I knelt and prayed, her life was in the hands of God," said Eliza Issa, mother of the girl, the only one in a family of four.

"As if in a miracle, I took her to a Chinese clinic at Sinza where she was given traditional Chinese herbs and within 12 hours, she was smiling," said Ms Issa. The drug that was administered to Masamba came from a herb called Artemisia annua.

Masamba is one of the luckiest children in Tanzania where statistics show that annually, between 60,000 to 80,000 people mostly children under the age of five die from malaria.

Initially, Chloroquine and SP were used to treat the disease but by 2005, scientific evidence indicated that there was growing resistance of the plasmodia parasites against the drugs.

"The government had to make a decision based on scientific evidence available, Artemesinin Combination Therapy was adopted as first line of treatment of malaria in the country and the result was impressive," said Tanzanian Minister for Health, Dr Seif Rashid.

Dr Rashid said because of its effectiveness in fighting against malaria, Artemisinin has remained an important ingredient in drugs to treat the parasite.

Ministry of Health has said because of the regular development undergoing malaria parasites which makes them resistant to drugs, treatment will very much be based on research work being done by local scientists.

"So far, Artimesinin combination is working as effective treatment," Dr Rashid said during celebrations to mark World Malaria Day this year.

World Health Organization recommended use of Artemesinin based combinations following an increase by between 44 percent and 64 percent globally of people with suspected malaria who received a diagnostic test in the public sector.

"WHO recommended artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) has also increased, with the number of treatment courses delivered to countries rising from 76 million in 2006 to 331 million in 2012," a report by the world health body dated 2013 said.

Tanzania successfully attained Millennium Development Goal No. 4 by reducing childhood mortality by two thirds before the end of 2015. The country's remarkable success in this area followed improvements in its health system, including interventions sand effective treatment to under-fives.

According to the country's Demographic Health Survey, in 1999, mortality rate stood at a painful 141 for every thousand live births but the figure dropped to 81 per thousand live births.

"Let's not take our eyes off the prize," says Dr. Renata Mandike, head of National Insecticide Treated Nets Strategy at MoH.

Additionally, according to the Lives Saves Tool, a total of 63,000 lives of children under the age of five, have been saved by malaria control interventions since 1999. One such intervention is use of ACT as treatment for children whose weight is above five kilograms.

"Effective timely treatment has meant that children get necessary drugs once diagnosed with the disease because one of the reasons which contributed to the deaths is delayed treatment," she said in a recent paper presented to donors supporting the initiative.

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