Malawi government says it will not scale up the use of new anti-malaria drug Duo-Cotecxin until the management policy of the disease is reviewed and the new drug is adopted in the reviewed policy.
Duo-cotecxin is one of the artemisinin-based combination therapy drugs highly recommended by World Health Organization to treat malaria.
Duo-cotecxin, offers a three-day, one-dose-a-day therapy.
Ministry of Health Public Relations Officer Henry Chimbali said the new drug is not different from the current one known as LA that is widely used in health facilities, but its effectiveness is about two per cent more than LA.
“Yes, the new drug has been tested in Malawi and the results are currently being compiled but as said above, its effectiveness is almost the same as LA. Presently, we will not replace LA with Duo-cotecxin until we update our policy and when the effectiveness of LA has reduced later on,” Chimbali said.
He explained that while the strength of the drug is almost the same as LA, its dosage may be different and that information will be made during the training sessions for health providers, saying the drug is as good as any other new drug that has proved to be effective through rigorous scientific research.
It may have side effects which may vary from one person to the other, but it is important to focus on the benefits of taking such medicines and not necessarily the side effects.
According to Chimbali, malaria is a major health challenge in the country as it accounts for over a third of all outpatients. There are approximately six million suspected cases of the disease each year and remains the number one cause of hospital admission among children less than five years old .
Distribution of insecticide treated mosquitoes, indoor residual spraying, intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women are some of the ways that the ministry has embarked on to fight the disease.
Duo-cotecxin is one of the artemisinin based combination therapy drugs highly recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to treat malaria. The drug was launched by Medicine & Poisons Board after a successful implementation in Tanzania and 30 other countries.
Chimbali said strict measures are being put in place to prevent counterfeit of the drug in health facilities across the country.
“The Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board will strengthen monitoring to ensure that fake drugs do not find their way into our facilities,” he said.