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Malaria prevention reduces anemia and improves educational potential in Kenyan schoolchildren
Date:7/10/2008

s, received three treatments (sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine combined with amodiaquine, or a dual placebo) at four-monthly intervals, once each school term. The impact of treatment was assessed through cross-sectional surveys 12 months later.

IPT dramatically reduced the occurrence of malaria infection in schoolchildren. The risk of anaemia was halved among those receiving IPT compared with the controls, and significant improvements were also seen in class-based tests of sustained attention among those receiving IPT. No impact was observed for educational achievement.

Dr. Matthew Jukes, Assistant Professor of International Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, worked on the study and comments: 'Although it has long been suspected that malaria impairs school performance, this is the first study to provide evidence of a direct link between malaria and reduced attention in class. These results indicate that malaria infection may hinder learning and its prevention could be important to enhance the educational potential of schoolchildren.'

Dr. Sin Clarke, a Lecturer in Malaria Research and Control at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, comments: 'Our findings highlight the neglected burden of malaria in older children, and reveal that malaria infection in schoolchildren may have more profound consequences than previously appreciated. Preventing malaria could have important health and cognitive benefits for African schoolchildren and deserves more attention. These results show us that intermittent preventive treatment in schools is a novel and effective means to address this problem.'

The findings of the study have particular relevance for the global 'Education for All' initiative which aims to achieve universal school enrolment and enhance schooling.

The intervention could prove a valuable and affordable addition to realising 'Education for All' goals through school health and nutrition programmes
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Contact: Gemma Howe
gemma.howe@lshtm.ac.uk
020-792-72802
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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