The annual seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaign (SMC) spearheaded by the Malaria Consortium has begun with a target of reaching 5.5m children in Nigeria, Chad and Burkina Faso who are at risk of contracting or succumbing to the disease.
The WHO-recommended SMC intervention, launched in 2013, entails distribution and administering two safe and effective preventive antimalarial medications of amodiaquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, once a month until the end of October 2019, with the support of national malaria control agencies in each of the three countries.
‘This is the time of the year when most malaria illness and deaths occur across the Sahel sub-region,’ said the Malaria Consortium in a statement at the start of the campaign in late July. Support for the antimalarial campaign comes from UK aid, the Global Fund and USAID’s President’s Malaria Initiative.
Initial evaluation of the programme costs by US non-profit charity GiveWell shows each child will spend less than $7 for the preventive antimalarial drug for the four months of the SMC campaign effectively reducing the rate of infection.
‘Rates of malaria in children under five fall by as much as 75% when SMC is used alongside other interventions such as indoor residual spraying and sleeping under insecticide-treated nets,’ says the Malaria Consortium.
In addition to the SMC campaign, the three countries are also beneficiaries of the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) with Nigeria having $65m to support entomologic monitoring and insecticide resistance management, insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying and malaria in pregnancy.
An estimated 76% of Nigeria’s 209m people live in malaria-prone areas while another 24% live in low malaria transmission regions.
In landlocked Burkina Faso, 9.8m cases of malaria were confirmed in 2016, up from 8.3m in 2015. However, the Malaria Consortium notes a 41% decrease in deaths of children under five years to 2370 in 2016 down from 4005 in 2015.
Furthermore, in Chad, an estimated 80% of the population resides in high malaria transmission areas with an estimated 1.1m cases confirmed in 2016 and at least 1509 deaths.
‘We are delighted that our SMC campaign has begun in these three countries,’ said programme director, Christian Rassi in July 2019.