Medical personnel in Malawi have been warned against continued use of ineffective drugs, which would facilitate the development of a malaria parasite to be resistant to the present malaria drugs.
Associate Director for Malawi Liverpool Trust, Victor Mwapasa said that the use of Arinate that is common in most private hospitals in the country is dangerous, since the drug contains Fansidar which is ineffective and Artesunate that does not treat all malaria parasites.
“I have noted that most private hospitals are using a drug called Arinate to treat patients with malaria. This is very bad and dangerous practice because Arinate contains Fansidar and Artesunate.
“Fansidar is an ineffective drug whilst Artesunate is effective but is unlikely to knock all malaria causing parasites.
“So treating a patient with Arinate is like treating them with Artesunate only,” Mwapasa explained.
He said the danger of using one effective drug against malaria is that malaria parasites will develop resistance to Artesunate, which is a similar drug to Artemether contained in Lumefantrine-Artemether (LA) and the same drug in Amodiaquine-Artesunate (AA).
Mwapasa said government recommends the use of LA and AA because each of these drugs has a combination of two effective malaria drugs which deals with a lot of malaria parasite leaving little chance for development of resistant parasite.
He therefore warned that if the use of Arinate is not stopped by the Medical Council or the Pharmacy Medicine and Poisons Board, malaria parasites resistant to Arinate, LA and AA will develop quickly and the country will have no effective drugs to treat malaria.
Malaria a disease caused by Plasmodium Faliparum in 1993 developed a resistance to Chloroquine that had been used for along time.
The resistance is said to have developed as a lot of people could not take the full dose that used to take three days.
Consequently, this government stopped the use of the drug and introduced Fansidar as the first line treatment for malaria.
However by the year 2000 it was noted that there was an increase of under-five children who had developed resistance to Fansidar hence the introduction of LA and AA.
Mwapasa explained that when this decision was made it was still unclear whether LA and AA were safe to use in pregnant women, as such most of the times a lot of medical personnel are usually cautious when treating pregnant women as the unborn baby may be harmed from it.
Malaria accounts for over 40 percent of out patients department consultations in public health facilities in the country and 40 percent of hospital deaths in children is also attributed to the same disease.
However Mwapasa said that right now government and malaria experts in the country feel that incidences of malaria are going down because of the increased use of insecticide-treated nets and the use of LA and AA drugs-Malawi Digest.