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Warning on child malaria

Children travelling to countries where malaria is endemic are increasingly failing to take prophylactic medication, a new study reveals.

Child health specialists urg-ed GPs to set out the benefits of prophylaxis to parents after their research found the proportion of children on medication fell from 53 per cent in 1999 to 29 per cent in 2002.

Over the study period, 1,456 cases of malaria in children were reported to the Malaria Reference Laboratory. Two of the children died, reported the study published online by the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Study leader Dr Shamez Ladhani, a specialist registrar at the Academic Centre for Child Health, Royal London Hospital, said: 'While it is reassuring to note the low mortality, there is an urgent need to improve preventive measures.'

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a member of the GPC prescribing sub-committee and a GP in Stanmore, Middlesex, said children often refused to take the anti-malarial drugs because they were unpalatable. 'If the Government feels it is appropriate to give patients travel immunisations on the NHS, it is illogical that anti-malarials are not available on the NHS.'

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