Mass drug administration for malaria

Administration of antimalarial drugs to whole populations

Eugenie Poirot1,2, Jacek Skarbinski1, David Sinclair3, S Patrick Kachur1, Laurence Slutsker1, Jimee Hwang1,2,*

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Malaria Branch, Atlanta, GA, USA
University of California San Francisco, Global Health Group, San Francisco, USA 
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Liverpool, UK

Mass drug administration for malaria. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD008846.

To read the full review please follow this link: DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008846.pub2.

Malaria is the most important mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite, accounting for an estimated 660,000 deaths annually. Fortunately, malaria is both preventable and treatable. Several malaria control tools currently exist, and new and innovative approaches are continually under development.

The administration of drugs against malaria to whole populations, termed mass drug administration (MDA), was a component of many malaria elimination programmes in the 1950s, and is once again attracting interest as a malaria elimination tool. As a consequence, it is important to review the currently available literature in order to assess the potential for this strategy to reduce malaria burden and transmission, and to identify gaps in our understanding.

This review assessed the impact of MDA on several malaria-specific outcome measures. Thirty-two studies were included in this review, from sites in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

The review found that although MDA can reduce the initial risk of malaria-specific outcomes, these reductions are often not sustained. However, a few studies conducted on small islands or in highland areas did show sustained impact more than six months after MDA.

Adverse events were inadequately addressed in most studies. Notable severe drug reactions, including haemolysis, haemoglobinuria, severe anaemia and death, were reported with 8-aminoquinoline plus schizonticide drug co-administration, while severe skin reactions were reported with sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine plus artesunate plus primaquine.

Assessing the true impact of MDA programmes can be a challenge due to the heterogeneity of the study methods employed. Nonetheless, this review can help guide future antimalarial MDA interventions and their evaluation.