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  • on 05.03.2014
  • at 10:00 AM
  • by Kevin Hind

Screening and treating malaria in schools ‘not useful’ 0

Nairobi – A new study in Kenya on how school-based malaria interventions affect the health of children and their education has recommended that intermittent screening and treatment (IST) should not be implemented in low- to- moderate malaria transmission settings.

Researchers from Kenya, United Kingdom and the United States say previous studies in high malaria transmission areas indicated beneficial effects of IST, but there is limited evidence of the effectiveness of such interventions in low-to-moderate malaria transmission areas.
 
The researchers selected more than 5,000 children in 101 government primary schools in the south coast of Kenya in January 2010. Half of the schools were randomly selected to receive IST or no intervention. The IST involved using rapid diagnostic test to screen children in classes one to five once a term for malaria parasites and a follow-up treatment with the anti-malarial drug arthemeter-lumefantrine for those who tested positive.

For both schools with or without the IST, the researchers measured the proportion of children with anaemia and malaria at 12 months and 24 months and the class educational achievement tests at 9 months and 24 months, according to the study published on 28 January this year inPLOS Medicine.
 
Simon Brooker, a co-author of the study and professor of epidemiology at the UK-based London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, tellsSciDev.Net that IST for malaria had no benefits on the percentage of children infected with malaria parasites or on levels of anaemia, sustained attention or educational achievement.
 
“Although children found to be infected were treated, a substantial proportion of the school population and the wider community were untested and untreated, contributing to re-infection,” Brooker explains.
 
But he identifies the benefits of the research: “The results highlight a potential role for schools in detecting pockets of high malaria transmission [for targeted malaria control]”.

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By Duncan MboyahSciDev Net 

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