Cambodia is working to develop a first-ever drug combination to combat malaria in small children and infants, health officials said Wednesday.
The Ministry of Health’s National Malaria Center, Cambodia Pharmaceutical Enterprises and the World Health Organization are working together to put the same treatment they already use for adults into a powdered form with the proper dosage.
The combination of the drugs Mefloquine and Artesunate have already been used to fight drug resistant malaria. The current treatment is a three-day regimen, and the pill form of the drugs come in easy-to-use blister packs.
Health officials are now in the process of finding the right formula to use on small children, said Dr Keuky Lim, a pharmaceutical expert at the WHO.
“This kind of formula has not been used anywhere else in the world,” Keuky Lim said.
When the right formula is found, clinical trials would begin after approval from the government, he said, adding that those trials could begin as early as next year.
“It takes awhile,” said Dr Stefan Hoyer, malaria expert for the WHO, which works closely with the Ministry of Health and the National Malaria center to test for malaria, treat it, and prevent it by issuing mosquito bed nets.
Malaria-carrying mosquitoes bite at night, making nets the most effective form of prevention. But a treatment that could be mixed in water and given to small children would hopefully be effective, Hoyer said.
Other drugs already being field tested in Cambodia include Chinese-developed Artekin and Swiss-developed Coarten, Hoyer said.
All of the drugs are designed to overcome the obstacles of malaria that is resistant to conventional drugs, he said.