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Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention Faces Obstacles But Is Best Option For Some

“Last year, the [WHO] finally recommended the preventative approach, called seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC), in African regions where malaria is common and strictly seasonal,” Brooklyn-based science journalist Amy Maxmen writes in a post in Scientific American’s “Guest Blog” examining the “public health debate and the future of this potentially historical intervention.” She states, “These authorities changed their tune because of several clinical trials suggesting that the costs of chemoprevention were worth the benefits of chemoprevention.” However, “SMC meets obstacles as it unfurls in Mali, Togo, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal,” she notes, adding, “The problems mainly stem from a lack of money, human resources and organization — all the expected challenges in some of the poorest nations in the world.”

Maxmen examines some of these challenges — including problems reaching people in rural areas, difficulties getting children to swallow the pills, and the threat of drug resistance — and continues, “[I]n the short-term, SMC is undoubtedly the best hope for thousands of parents who want their children to live and prosper.” She writes, “Alternative drugs might also help nations like Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo where SP and amodiaquine no longer cure the disease,” and adds, “Another decade may pass before novel drugs or a highly effective malaria vaccine comes along, so in the interim, experts are pushing against all the obstacles in their path to reach 21 million children who could benefit from the intervention” (11/14).