Africa's malaria crisis offered fresh hope

A new drug has been launched in Zambia for the treatment of malaria.

The Lapdap drug was manufactured in the United Kingdom after years of research in an academic exercise that began in 1995. The UK Regulatory Authority authorised the drug in July 2003 after scrutinising it for about eight months.

Lapdap has been developed through a public/private collaboration between the World Health Organisation special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Medicine, GlaxoSmithKline, the UK Department for International Development and the University of Liverpool and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Other partners were the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine and African researchers.

University of Liverpool's professor of clinical pharmacology, Peter Winstanley, said during the launch of the drug this week Lapdap contains two existing anti-malarial (plasmodium falciparum) agents - chlorproguanil hydrochloride and Dapsone - "which work synergistically as a highly effective and well-tolerated combination, with simple to use once-daily dosing."

Chlorproguanil hydrochloride was developed initially for malaria prophylaxis.

Dapsone has been widely used in the treatment of leprosy, but has long been known to have anti-malarial properties.

Professor Winstanley said: “In efficacy studies, Lapdap has been shown to be significantly more successful in treating patients than SP with 96 per cent of patients demonstrating treatment success using Lapdap compared to 89 per cent using SP."

Malaria in Africa is a silent killer which has also been identified as Africa’s ticking time bomb. The disease is second only to Aids in its death toll statistics.

According to health indications by the World Health Organisation, five out of every 1,000 births in Africa result in death attributed to Malaria.

Research carried out by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University, also revealed that malaria has taken a quiet but steady toll on the world’s poorest nations, with the mosquito that carries the malaria parasite killing up to two million people, most of them African children under the age of five.

Malaria is blamed for one out of every four childhood deaths in Africa.

According to Professor Sachs, malaria slows down economic development by about 1.3 per cent annually.

As a result, Africa’s economy has suffered a loss of up to $100bn due to Malaria over the past three decades, research shows.