Overview of preventive therapies
Preventive therapies for malaria control include the use of a full treatment course of an antimalarial medicine given to vulnerable populations, particularly pregnant women, infants and children at designated time points during the period of maximal risk to prevent the consequences of malaria infections. The treatment course is given regardless of whether the recipient is infected with malaria.
Preventive chemotherapies are key elements of the comprehensive package of malaria prevention and control measures recommended by WHO. This is different from chemoprophylaxis for travellers or non-immune individuals, which is the use of subtherapeutic doses of antiamalarial medicine to prevent the development of malaria.
WHO-recommended preventive therapies include intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women (IPTp), intermittent preventive treatment of infants (IPTi), and seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC). The objective of these interventions is to prevent malarial illness by maintaining therapeutic drug levels in the blood throughout the period of greatest malarial risk.
IPTp should be given to pregnant women at antenatal visits in areas with moderate to high malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. IPTi should be delivered to infants through immunization services in areas with moderate to high malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. SMC is recommended to be administered to children under 5 years of age during the malaria season in areas of highly seasonal malaria transmission across the Sahel sub-region of Africa.
These interventions have been shown to be highly cost-effective and safe for preventing malaria in the target populations. They target specific population groups in specific transmission settings in Africa and thus reflect the current paradigm shift in malaria control from a one-size-fits-all approach to targeting strategies for specific populations and/or locations to maximize effectiveness.
- Malaria prevention works: let's close the gap (2017)
- Recommendations on intermittent screening and treatment in pregnancy and the safety of ACTs in the first trimester (2015)
- Guidelines for the treatment of malaria. Third edition (2015)
- Updated policy recommendation for intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women using sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP), October 2012
- WHO policy recommendation: Seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) for Plasmodium falciparum malaria control in highly seasonal transmission areas of the Sahel sub-region in Africa, March 2012
- WHO Policy recommendation on Intermittent Preventive Treatment during infancy with sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP-IPTi) for Plasmodium falciparum malaria control in Africa, March 2010