On Sunday 3rd of May, 2015, 11-month-old Precious Adebayo was admitted to the General Hospital Okeho, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, and was quickly diagnosed with severe malaria.

His mother, Bosede Adebayo recalls: “Precious started vomiting and had diarrhoea. He had a high temperature and within a short time became very weak. I had to rush him to the hospital. I was so afraid that I left him in God’s and the doctors’ hands.”

Dr Olusola Ayeleke, the treating physician immediately administered the first dose of injectable artesunate[1] and after 3 days Precious was well enough to be discharged.

“The response to treatment was very encouraging and amazing,” said Dr Ayeleke. “Precious responded quickly. Following the first dose there was significant improvement and by the time the second and third doses had been administered, he began eating well, taking oral medications and was good to go.”

Dr Ayeleke attributed Precious’ recovery to the use of injectable artesunate provided to the hospital through the Improving Severe Malaria Outcomes (ISMO) project, supported by UNITAID, Medicines for Malaria Venture and the Malaria Consortium in collaboration with the Oyo State Government. “Before the project, treating severe malaria was really challenging because we were using intravenous quinine,” he said. “There was increased mortality due to malaria. Intravenous quinine is associated with more side effects and must be administered more frequently. Injectable artesunate makes the management of severe malaria easier and more fruitful.”

Every year around half a million children under 5 years of age die from severe malaria.

“After the ISMO training, health workers can use injectable artesunate to treat severe malaria patients,” said Dr Campbell Ibijoke Oluyomi, Consultant Paediatrician in charge of Oni Memorial Children’s Hospital. “It is very fast acting and so patients recover from the condition quicker and are no longer dying from severe malaria.”

Every year around half a million children under 5 years of age die from severe malaria. Injectable artesunate has been the World Health Organization-recommended treatment since 2011 – as it saves more lives than other injected malaria medicines. The problem is many health facilities in malaria-endemic countries still lack access to injectable artesunate and continue to use less effective treatments.

The increased uptake and use of injectable artesunate by healthcare workers across the malaria-endemic world will help save the lives of more children like Precious.

 

[1] For full information on injectable artesunate safety and efficacy please refer to WHO’s prescribing information: http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Jh2922e/2.5.11.html#Jh2922e.2.5.11