Malaria chemoprevention and drug resistance: a review of the literature and policy implications.

24 Mar 2022
Plowe CV
Chemoprevention strategies reduce malaria disease and death, but the efficacy of anti-malarial drugs used for chemoprevention is perennially threatened by drug resistance. This review examines the current impact of chemoprevention on the emergence and spread of drug resistant malaria, and the impact of drug resistance on the efficacy of each of the chemoprevention strategies currently recommended by the World Health Organization, namely, intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp); intermittent preventive treatment in infants (IPTi); seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC); and mass drug administration (MDA) for the reduction of disease burden in emergency situations. While the use of drugs to prevent malaria often results in increased prevalence of genetic mutations associated with resistance, malaria chemoprevention interventions do not inevitably lead to meaningful increases in resistance, and even high rates of resistance do not necessarily impair chemoprevention efficacy. At the same time, it can reasonably be anticipated that, over time, as drugs are widely used, resistance will generally increase and efficacy will eventually be lost. Decisions about whether, where and when chemoprevention strategies should be deployed or changed will continue to need to be made on the basis of imperfect evidence, but practical considerations such as prevalence patterns of resistance markers can help guide policy recommendations.