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Published:February 19th, 2009 16:24 EST

The Fight Against Malaria... just a spoonful of sugar

By SOP newswire2

One teaspoon of moistened sugar placed underneath the tongue of sick
hypoglycaemic children " a simple solution to a serious problem.

Nearly 800,000 children die every year from malaria. In Africa, malaria
combined with hypoglycaemia causes many of these children to die before
they get to a health care facility, where they could access life saving
intravenous treatment. A clinical trial conducted in Mali, with the support
of Antenna Technologies, suggests that placing a spoonful of sugar under
the child`s tongue can be as effective and moreover much simpler than

Despite recent progress in the prevention and treatment of malaria, this
tropical disease still affects more than 250 million people and kills
nearly one million each year. With 85 to 90% of deaths occurring among
children, it is the most vulnerable who pay the biggest price of the
disease. The majority of these victims are under five years old and live in
remote areas, mainly in Africa.

Children with hypoglycaemia, that is almost 20% of children with severe
malaria, are three to four times more likely to die from the disease.
Standard practice is to give an intravenous infusion of glucose, but this
is often only accessible too late since it is administered at hard to reach
health facilities. A clinical trial was carried out in Mali, in Sikasso
Hospital, by the Department of Paediatrics and with the support of the
Swiss International Cooperation and the Antenna Technologies team. This
trial has identified a new method to correct hypoglycaemia and raise blood
glucose. Results from this study have been published in the Malaria

By placing a teaspoon of sugar moistened with a few drops of water under
the tongue of the child, even a child already in a state of coma, blood
glucose levels were raised, providing what appears to be a simple first aid
treatment. This easy treatment can be given by non professionals at home
and during transportation to health centers, buying precious time, and
saving many lives.

Proposed a long time ago by, among others, the French paediatrician Hubert
Barennes, this simple method has not yet been applied due to a lack of
trials. Trials have now been carried out. The bold action has been going
against the idea prevalent among medics, to show that sugar does not
necessarily have to be swallowed to act on glucose levels: by simple
contact with the tissues in the oral cavity, particularly those under the
tongue, a rapid elevation of blood sugar is observed, in fact even faster
acting than if the sugar was swallowed.

In the race against time faced by children with severe malaria, evidence
showing the benefits of administering sugar under the tongue can be life
changing for the poorest regions where malaria hits the hardest. Now the
challenge is to make this procedure known to tropical medicine specialists
worldwide, and that the WHO and other health agencies include this
procedure in their guidelines.


For more information:

Antenna Technologies, Geneva Office, Tel: +41 22 731 10 34
Dr Jacques FALQUET,

DDC - Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
DDC Office in Mali, Bamako,, Tel: +223 2021 32 05
Patrick ETIENNE, Deputy Director,

Complete article published in The Malaria Journal:

Authors: Bertrand Graz, Moussa Dicko, Merlin L Willcox, Bernard Lambert,
Jacques Falquet, Mathieu Forster, Sergio Giani, Chiaka Diakite, Eugène M
Dembele, Drissa Diallo, Hubert Barennes

Antenna Technologies: Founded in 1989, Antenna Technologies is an
association of scientists specialized in the areas of nutrition, health and
water. Based in Geneva, Antenna Technologies develops and disseminates
technologies tailored to the needs of the poor, promoting a pragmatic
approach to development. The Geneva office provides management and
monitoring of projects in partnership with its local branches. On the
field, Antenna Technologies works local NGOs and International
Organizations. This approach requires the direct participation of
populations and looks to develop their autonomy. Its funding comes from
private donations and institutional funds. More information available at:

Media contact:
mondofragilis network, Gilles Cnockaert,