Intermittent preventive therapy for malaria: progress and future directions

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Purpose of review

This review summarizes recent evidence regarding the efficacy of intermittent preventive treatment with focus on infancy (IPTi) and the rationale behind such a control strategy.

Recent findings

Pooled safety and efficacy analyses of all six trials of IPTi with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine conducted between 1999 and 2007 have demonstrated a 30% protective efficacy against clinical malaria, a 24% protective efficacy against all-cause hospital admissions, a 37% protective efficacy against malaria-related hospital admissions, and a 15% protective efficacy against anemia, all in the first year of life. Rebound in malaria following discontinuation of the intervention has not been noted in pooled analyses of the IPTi trials.


Given the efficacy, excellent safety and tolerability of the intervention and the fact that it is inexpensive and easily deliverable if linked to the Expanded Programme on Immunization, IPTi-sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine appears to add a valuable tool to the malaria-control armamentarium in endemic areas of Africa. Routine monitoring of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine efficacy will be required to guide future IPTi programme implementation. Variations of IPTi that target older children may be required for areas of Africa with highly seasonal malaria transmission.

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