Wednesday 15 October 2008

Cherry Flavoured Malaria Pills

A cherry-flavoured pill which is easy to swallow could help save the lives of children in malaria-affected areas, say researchers in Tanzania.

Malaria is one of mankind's oldest known killers, with descriptions of the disease dating back almost 5000 years. Each year, malaria causes 300-500 million infections, and up to 3 million deaths--about 5000 Africans die of the disease every day; one child succumbs every 30 seconds.

They say the tablet is not as bitter as other anti-malaria drugs and does not need to be crushed before eating.  This would make it easier for children to stick to the treatment, the team told the medical journal, The Lancet.  Malaria kills more than a million people every year, many of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa.  There is no vaccine for malaria but it is curable if treated promptly.  However, drugs currently used to treat it are very bitter and often need to be crushed before children can swallow them, which can weaken the medicine.

Salim Abdulla of the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania said the new cherry-flavoured pill was easy to administer and effective.  Health experts say the pill could help to promote better outcomes from treatment and delay the development of drug resistant strains of the disease.

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