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For the first time in more than two decades, a team from the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme and University of Oxford have quantified the risk of children suffering severe outcomes from malaria - which can have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of children who are admitted to hospital with severe malaria every year.

Anopheles mosquito

The new paper, Malaria infection and severe disease risks in Africa,  key conclusions included:

  • If we can reduce malaria transmission by a quarter we can halve the rate of children needing emergency care for severe, life-threatening malaria.
  • Supports the current intervention policies - that are focusing on younger children - as the most effective strategy for preventing severe malaria disease.
  • Help in understanding and predicting the age-pattern at which children are hospitalised under different settings, so resources can be focused on the children with the highest risk of needing emergency care.

The research, published in Science, analysed over 6000 paediatric hospital admissions from 35 hospitals across Africa, matching patients to populations where the chances of childhood infection varied from very low to very high. They looked for typical indicators of severe disease in children, including anaemia, cerebral symptoms, and respiratory distress.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website

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