DECEMBER 1, 2014 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
In order to reduce cases of fever mistaken to be caused by Ebola, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and partners will this week commence the distribution of recommended malaria drugs – Artesunate+Amodiaquine (AS+AQ) – targeting Ebola hotspots in Bombali, Kambia, Koinadugu, Moyamba, Port Loko, Tonkolili and Freetown.
Programme Manager of National Malaria Control Programme in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Samuel Juana Smith, told newsmen on Friday (28 November) that the goal of the exercise is to contribute to the containment of the Ebola outbreak in the country, thus reducing morbidity and mortality.
“Artesunate+Amodiaquine has been chosen for the MDA because it is the first line drug for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in Sierra Leone. It is effective and efficacious, safe, well tolerated and [can] reduced transmission,” said Dr. Smith.
He stated that the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for malaria, which will run from 5 to 6 December 2014 and 9 to 12 January 2015 respectively, would help to rapidly reduce the number of febrile (suspected Ebola cases) that would otherwise have required screening and isolation, as well as improve diagnostic accuracy in diagnosis of suspected Ebola.
“Artesunate/Amodiaquine (AS/AQ) will be administered in the most affected Ebola ‘hotspots’ areas in the country during the Mass Drug Administration exercise. We hope to cover all ages above 6 months,” he said and added that the exercise will act as a complementary approach to contain the Ebola epidemic, whilst contributing to decrease in mortality and morbidity linked to malaria.
Dr. Smith noted that children below 6 months, malnourished children, pregnant women who are in the first three months of pregnancy, and all persons with fever and or unwell who had contact with Ebola affected persons, will be exempt to receive the drugs.
According to him, the Ebola outbreak is an unprecedented crisis posing enormous challenges to malaria eradication activities in particular and the country’s health system in general.