Intended for healthcare professionals


Use artesunate not quinine to treat severe malaria, say experts

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 20 April 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2590
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. 1London

The international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is calling for a prompt switch from quinine to artesunate to treat all cases of severe malaria. In its new report Making the Switch it claims that the change could save 200 000 lives a year.

The call finds timely support in a policy change announced on 18 April by the World Health Organization. Having backed artesunate for use in adults since 2006, WHO is now recommending that the drug be used in children.

Artesunate is a derivative of the plant compound artemisinin. A clinical trial carried out in 2010 in nine African countries concluded that …

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