Maintaining focus on administering effective malaria treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic

It is essential that healthcare professionals consider both COVID- 19 and malaria when a patient who lives in or has recently travelled to a malaria area presents with acute febrile illness. Early diagnosis of malaria by either a rapid diagnostic test or microscopy enables prompt treatment with the effective antimalarial, artemether-lumefantrine, preventing progression to severe disease and death. Intravenous artesunate is the preferred treatment for severe malaria in both children and adults. Adding single low-dose primaquine to standard treatment is recommended in endemic areas to block onward transmission. Use of the highly effective artemisinin-based therapies should be limited to the treatment of confirmed malaria infections, as there is no clinical evidence that these antimalarials can prevent or treat COVID-19. Routine malaria case management services must be sustained, in spite of COVID-19, to treat malaria effectively and support SA’s malaria elimination efforts.

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