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A collaborative study by researchers from the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de La Santé of Nanoro (IRRS-Nanoro) in Burkina Faso and IDDO/WWARN has found that giving young children vitamin and lipid supplements at the same time as seasonal malaria chemoprevention reduces the incidence of severe malaria by approx. 50%, compared to chemoprevention alone.

Children line up to wash their hands from a plastic tub with a tap. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

The randomised trial, carried out in association with the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health, also found that the combined vitamin A and lipid supplementation reduced illness (not just from malaria) by 24%.

Malaria is a life threatening illness, especially for children – 80% of the people who die from malaria are children under the age of five. To combat this, the WHO recommends a preventative dose of two antimalarials for children under age five who live in areas where there is high seasonal malaria transmission.

Burkina Faso implemented this regime nationally in 2019, with health workers going door to door and giving children this supplementation during the high malaria transmission period.

“But the full potential of this intervention may not have been achieved after ten years of implementation in Burkina Faso,” said study lead Dr Paul Sando, from the IRSS -Nanoro. “It is crucial to tailor the seasonal malaria chemoprevention programme to the local context.”

Accordingly, the programme has already been expanded to children older than five years in some areas, and health programmes in Burkina Faso and in Mali have tailored the number of cycles of the programme to the length of the transmission season.

Read the full story on the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) website.