The use of artemether-lumefantrine by febrile children following national implementation of a revised drug policy in Kenya

Gitonga CW, Amin AA, Ajanga A, Kangwana BB, Noor AM, Snow RW
Trop Med Int Health. 2008;13

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OBJECTIVES: To examine access to, timing and use of artemisinin-based combination therapy among rural Kenyan febrile children before and following the introduction of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) as first-line antimalarial drug policy. METHODS: In August 2006, a cohort was established within 72 rural clusters in four sentinel districts to monitor the period prevalence of fever and treatment in children aged 0-4 years through four repeat cross-sectional surveys (one prior to introduction of AL and three post-AL introduction: January-June 2007). Mothers/guardians of children were asked about fever in the last 14 days and related treatment actions including the timing, drugs used, dosing and adherence supported by visual aids of commonly available drug products. RESULTS: A total of 2526 child-observations were recorded during the four survey rounds. The period prevalence of fever was between 20% and 26% with little variation between survey rounds. The overall proportion of children with fever receiving antimalarial drugs for their fever was 31 % (95% CI, 26-36%) and the proportion of febrile children receiving antimalarial drugs within 48 h was 23.3% (95% CI, 18.6-28.0%). The proportion of febrile children who received first-line recommended AL within 48 h was 10.2% (95% CI, 7.0-13.4%), compared to only 4.6% (95% CI, 3.8-5.4%) of children receiving sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine first-line therapy in 2001. CONCLUSIONS: Although Kenya was less than a year into the new policy implementation and AL is restricted to the public formal sector, access to antimalarial drugs among children within 48 h and to the first-line therapy has improved. But it remains well below national and international targets. The continued use of amodiaquine and artemisinin monotherapies constrains effective implementation of artemisinin-based combination therapy policy in Kenya.