By Oscar Nkala


Scientists at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) have come up with a new drug they believe is much safer and superior to Fansidar in the management of malaria among pregnant women.

KEMRI Centre for Global Health Research chief researcher Dr Simon Kariuki described the new drug, known as Dihydroartemisin-piperaquine, as a second-line intervention that has proved effective in treating clinical malaria when compared to Fansidar, the main drug used for malaria treatment across Africa.

Dr Kariuki said to date, the new drug has passed relevant safety tests after proving to be better tolerated and more effective than Fansidar in preventing malaria among pregnant women during recent tests in Kenya and Uganda.

More tests and observations are underway at 10 sites in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. The WHO now recommends monthly Fansidar doses for pregnant women after findings that the drug does not provide long-term immunity against malaria.

Pregnancy increases women’s chances of getting infected with malaria, with first and second-time mothers at high risk of infection. According to the WHO, malaria remains one of the top three killers of pregnant women in Sub-Saharan Africa.