Health professionals of Togo, in the malaria thorn West Africa, welcome the 2015 Medical Nobel Prize awarded to the Chinese researcher Tu Youyou for having discovered artemisinin, a novel therapy against malaria.
“It is international acknowledgement that is worth what have been done to reduce malaria, especially in African countries,” Awokou Fantche, malariologist and coordinator of national malaria control program of Togo.
According to this malaria specialist, artemisinin and related based combination drugs are adopted in malaria management policy in Togo since the year 2000. But it is five years later, from 2005, that artemisinin based combination drugs are systemically used to treat non severe malaria cases in Togo health sector, he explained.
“Many lives have been saved and the drug’s efficiency allows expecting a better tomorrow,” Fantche said.
He emphasized that malaria patients are reported to show good tolerance to artemisinin based combination drugs and that no side effects are revealed. He added that the efficiency rate of these drugs is still high, above 95 percent, and has induced a great change and a further step in the fight against malaria in Togo.
In 2014, the West African country registered 1.3 million confirmed malaria cases of which over 80 percent were treated successfully with artemisinin based combinations.
“I am proud that Tu Youyou is awarded the Nobel Prize and I encourage her to work more for better management of malaria,” the pediatrician Palanga-Awoussi Amy stated, adding that she knows arteminsinin and its based combinations more than 13 years ago.
The child health specialist is a practitioner in the Regional Central Hospital of Lome Commune where malaria is, as at national level, the primary causes of consultations. She pointed out that with artemisinin and its related combination drugs patients feel better just the second and third day of cure, in both serious and simple malaria where they are respectively used.
On the spot in the pediatric of Regional Central Hospital of Lome Commune, Miracle Dike, a four year Nigerian girl, is admitted as she has complicated malaria. According to pediatrician Palanga-Awoussi, the four year girl was brought in a very critical state with anemia and has received blood transfusion.
“She could not stand, eat and speak when I brought her. Now she can do all these, thanks to the cares provided,” Theresa Dike, 28-year-old mother of Miracle Dike.
Dr. Abraham Atekpe, practitioner at the medicine in the same hospital center, explained that the resort to artemisinin and related based combination drugs yielded good results and no dangerous side effects are recorded.
“I am very pleased that Tu Youyou is awarded a Nobel Prize,” he said, adding that he welcomes the awarding of this acknowledgement and salutes the researcher. He went on to say that, awarding this prize will be very incentive for many other researchers and will fast track discoveries.
The Regional Central Hospital of Lome Commune is one of reference hospital centers in Togo and “has about 98 percent cure rate in malaria management,” Yakoubou Sadicou, the general director commented.
“Malaria is the first cause of consultations and of hospitalizations in the center,” he said.
According to data made available, the Regional Central Hospital registered in 2014 about 3,260 cases of malaria at emergency door, 2,005 malaria cases in pediatric and 729 malaria cases in general medicine. They represent, respectively, 29.61 percent, 34.39 percent and 20.07 percent of patients consulted and admitted in each of the specific fields.
Artemisinin, also known as qinghaosu and its semi-synthetic derivatives are a group of drugs that possess the most rapid action of all current drugs against Plasmodium falciparum malaria. It was discovered by Tu Youyou, a Chinese scientist, who was awarded half of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery. Treatments containing an artemisinin derivative (artemisinin-combination therapies, ACTs) are now standard treatment worldwide for P. falciparum malaria.
Tu Youyou (born 30 December 1930) is a Chinese medical scientist, pharmaceutical chemist,pharmacist, and educator. Her discovery of artemisinin and its treatment of malaria is regarded as a significant breakthrough of tropical medicine in the 20th century and health improvement for people of tropical developing countries in South Asia, Africa, and South America. For her work, Tu received the 2011 Lasker Award in clinical medicine and the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura. Tu is the first Chinese Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine and the first citizen of the People’s Republic of China to receive the Nobel Prize in natural sciences, as well as the first Chinese person to receive the Lasker Award. She was born and educated and carried out research exclusively in China.