I’ve written before about Malaria. (Been there, had that).

One problem in treating children is figuring out the dosages. That’s why we frequently treated children give local herbal medicines by their patients: Not the the medicine was toxic but because of overdose. Even over the counter medicine is dangerous when moms accidentally or because they aren’t too bright or because they are too tired caring for the sick child to think manage to get the dosage wrong.

So the good news is the release of a new malaria medicine BBC LINK NYTimes LINK2

The pills combine artemisinin, a Chinese herbal drug that is widely used in SEAsia, and an older quinine type medicine, amodiaquine. By mixing two medicines, it is hoped the malaria parasite won’t evolve and become resistant to either medicine.

The drug is cheap: $1 a day for adults, half that for children. And the dosage is easy: two pills a day for three days for adults, one pill a day for three days for children.

In countries where people often only earn a dollar a day, it is expensive, but poor people are like people everywhere, and figure free medicines are worthless, so often do not take them. And often clinics will arrange ways for the truly indigent to pay for life saving medications.

The drug will be used by President Bush’s $1.2 billion Malaria Initiative, the W.H.O., Unicef and the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

It is hoped that by subsidizing the price and allowing pharmacists to dispense the medicine in some countries, the availability of a safe and cheap medicine will decrease the death rate of malaria. Right now there is a problem with cheap counterfeit drugs being dispensed in the third world, and the NYTimes article estimates 100 000 deaths last year from malaria alone that was treated with fake medicine.

Malaria kills 3 million people a world each day, most of them in Africa. One third of the deaths are in children.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines with her husband, six dogs, three cats, and a large extended family. When she was young she worked in Africa as a doctor. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she writes medical essays on Hey Doc Xanga Blog

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