If you are planning on experiencing the tranquillity of the Mozambican coastline this coming holiday season, it comes as no surprise that precautions against mosquito bites should be your number-one priority.
But let’s face it, prophylaxis can easily set you back a couple of hundred bucks, or even thousands, depending on various factors. There has, however, been a breakthrough in the prevention of malaria, reports Lowvelder.
Forrester Pharma recently announced the down-scheduling of Malanil, which was previously S4, to S2. This means that Malanil, and some of its generic brothers like Mozitec and Malateq, will now be even more widely available in malaria prophylaxis. The decision was made by the Medicines Control Council, to allow Malanil to become more accessible and more affordable due to a recent increase in malaria cases.
Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi gazetted changes to these schedules last week.
Charl Weber, the responsible pharmacist at Mopani, said the co-formulated atovaquone-proguanil, when intended and labelled for the chemoprophylaxis of malaria in those weighing 11 kilograms or more, can now be purchased over the counter without a prescription.
He explained that there are two (there used to be three) different antimalarial medication available in South Africa:
Mefloquine (Lariam or Mefliam)
Mefloquine is extremely effective in preventing all forms of malaria in most parts of the world. Due to its side effects, it is not recommended and has for the past 18 months been unavailable.
Side effects included an upset stomach, drowsiness and dizziness. There were other possible neuropsychiatric ones such as unusual dreams, hallucinations, depression, anxiety, psychosis, and seizures. It can impair balance and fine motor coordination and is not to be used by pilots or scuba divers.
Doxycycline (Doximal and Doxitab)
Weber said it was similar to antibiotics. Even though available and relatively cheap, you need a prescription and because of its side effects, isn’t usually recommended unless needed for a long period of time.
“Doxycycline may also make your skin sensitive to sunlight, nausea, and decreases the efficacy of some oral contraceptives. It should not be taken by pregnant women or children younger than 10 years, since it can interfere with growing teeth and bones.”
This combination has been shown in various studies to be highly effective in preventing malaria. It, however, used to be expensive, but not any longer. If your child weighs more than 11 kilograms, it can be taken.
“It is very safe,” said Weber.
Now being an S2, it means that it is available over the counter and doesn’t require a prescription, so there’s no need to go for a consultation.
“The pharmacy will do a short assessment at no extra cost, and you will be on your way. To ensure that it’s used safely, the patient’s personal details must be recorded and guidance provided by a pharmacist or other a healthcare professional,” he said.
“With the recent spate in malaria cases, this really is a breakthrough in healthcare.”