At least 200,000 malaria treatments donated earlier this year have arrived in the country. The drugs will be distributed in malaria endemic zones for treatment and prevention. The 200,000 coartem dispersible children’s treatments were donated by leading drugs maker Novartis, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, parent company of Huggies-brand diapers, US-nonprofit Malaria No More, and the Kenyan Government.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the treatments were important in malaria control. “Treatments are essential to help fight malaria, especially as the medicines protect our most vulnerable population, children under five,” he said. Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. It kills about 30,000 children under five years every year, according to the ministry of health. Through an expanded global effort to fight the disease, Africa has witnessed a 54 per cent decrease rate of child malaria deaths since 2000.

Head of Novartis in Kenya Mo Metwally said the company has a long-term plan to fight malaria in the country. “Novartis has been active in Kenya for more than 40 years, delivering over 78 million malaria treatments without profit to the public sector since 2006 and expanding access to quality-assured artemisinin-based combination therapies in the private sector,” he said.

Novartis is also testing a new compound for its potential to treat malaria and prevent transmission. It has also demonstrated properties which allow exploring it as once-daily dosing regimen, the Swiss company said.

The proof of concept study was conducted in Bangkok and Mae Sot near the Thailand-Myanmar border where resistance to current therapies had been reported. The next phase of studies will implemented in Africa. Novartis said the compound, KAE609, will be developed as a fixed-dose combination therapy with a second antimalarial drug to reduce the potential for resistance. The next phase of studies will last approximately two to three years, as per the typical drug development timeline.

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