02-08-2012 by corriere della sera
From our correspondent IN NAIROBI - "pharmacological prophylaxis against malaria? No thanks.
Today malaria treatment at the first symptoms. The drugs that are used for prevention are expensive and have side effects. Better l 'artemisimina, an active substance contained in the wormwood plant. "
Who speaks so sure is Mauro Saio, an Italian doctor who for twenty-five works in Kenya and a score to Nairobi Hospital. His specialty is to study and treat malaria, a disease that causes every year from one million to three million deaths, according to estimates.
According to the 'World Health Organization people affected each year by malaria which is responsible a parasite called Plasmodium, transmitted by the bite of Anopheles mosquitoes, they are 300 million worldwide. Parasitic insidious: wetsuit genetically very rapidly and is transformed so as to develop a ready drug resistance. "That's why the old quinine useful cent 'years ago - explains Habit - is no longer needed. Its effectiveness has decreased to become almost zero. This is what happened to the 'Halofantrine, which was used liberally for fifteen years' ago. At that time it was understood that he had to associate two different drugs, thereby reducing the 'onset of resistance. Treatment with quinine, as they plasmodium becomes resistant, it was accompanied with administration of antibiotics: at first it was used as tetracycline, doxycycline now. " 'All' beginning of the nineties - still tells the Italian doctor - I invited Kenya Professor Lee because it presented a new active substance in use in his country, China, for at least 3000 years: the 'artemisimina, water soluble compound and so easily absorbed dall 'body. Used in Kenya 's artemisimina not only it worked perfectly but killing the parasite making it even sterile, reduced transmission. In particular, it gave excellent results against Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous of the four parasites that cause malaria. What when it hits almost always, if not treated, it kills and develops drug resistance very rapidly. Only in '98, having saved dozens of people with a drug made with artemisia alone, I noticed the first signs of the parasite resistance. Apparently healed the sick, but after a few weeks you presented to hospital with a recurrence. To lock the 'evolution tried to associate the' artemisimina with other drugs, but with little exciting results, also because I had to use those medicines that had major side effects. Finally it was tuning a specialty that on the one hand care malaria with the 'artemisimina, and by' other prevents the parasite becoming resistant, with lumefantrine. It's a great drug: entered production in 1999 in seven years has not lost its effectiveness. " Its intake is simple. If you experience any of the symptoms of malaria, high fever, headaches and exhaustion, after testing for the presence of Plasmodium in blood take 4 tablets, twice a day, after meals, for three days. A big difference if you think that the drugs used for prophylaxis should be taken a couple of weeks before arriving in malarial zone and a few weeks after leaving. 'L' only true prophylaxis that must be applied is made of simple measures; - Specifies Dr. Saio - cover up with long sleeves after sunset, sleeping under a mosquito net and use insect repellents applied to the skin. " Gimmicks good but that still does not totally prevent contagion. For those who live in an endemic area, the new treatment is a cure: the pharmacological prophylaxis implored yes malaria, but it became too much weight to the liver, the 'organ where the plasmodium focuses and develops. And then the price really low, even if in the third world (given the 'extreme poverty of their people) can not use the' expression "accessible to all." A treatment cycle costs 1.2 Euros for an adult and 80 cents for a child. "Since using this drug - bass Dr. Saio laughing - I am almost unemployed. I did a lot of research and statistics, and are convinced it will be the solution for serious combat malaria. It is not an easy way, because the manufacturers of older drugs do not intend to remove from the market their products. But soon they will have to do it because the 'WHO, now, has taken her even with conviction the way of' artemisimina and l 'use of two drugs in combination."
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