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Abstract Background The increase in multidrug resistant Plasmodium falciparum infections threatens the malaria elimination goals in countries within the Greater Mekong Sub-region. A multi-pronged approach assuring access to basic malaria control measures, including insecticide-treated bed nets and early diagnosis and treatment was followed by mass drug administrations (MDA) in southern Savannakhet Province, Laos. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of mass drug administrations as well as their effects on the dynamic of asymptomatic P. falciparum infections in 4 malaria endemic villages. Methods Two villages were randomized to early MDA consisting of 3 rounds of a 3-day course of dihydroartemisinin–piperaquine with a single low dose of primaquine. In the other 2 villages MDA was deferred by 1 year. A total of 1036 residents were enrolled in early MDA villages and 883 in control villages (deferred-MDA). Tri-monthly parasitaemia surveys using uPCR were conducted for a year in the 4 villages. Results Eighty-four percent (872/1036) of the residents participated in the MDAs, of whom 90% (781/872) completed 3 rounds of MDA (9 doses). In intervention villages, the prevalence of asymptomatic P. falciparum infections decreased by 85% after MDA from 4.8% (95% CI 3.4–6.4) at baseline (month 0 or M0) to 0.7% (95% CI 0.3–1.6) at month 12. In control villages there was a decrease of 33% in P. falciparum prevalence between M0: 17.5% (95% CI 15.9–20.3) and M12: 11.6% (95% CI 9.3–14.2). In bivariate and multivariate analyses P. falciparum infections were significantly reduced with early MDA (adjusted incidence rate ratios (AIRR): 0.08, CI 0.01–0.091) and completion of 3 MDA rounds (AIRR: 0.06; CI 0.01–0.66). A quarter of participants (226/872) reported adverse events of which 99% were mild. Conclusion The study found a significant reduction in P. falciparum prevalence and incidence following MDA. MDA was safe, well tolerated, feasible, and achieved high population coverage and adherence. MDAs must be integrated in multi-pronged approaches such as vector control and preventive measures with a focus on specific risk groups such as mobile, migrant population and forest goers for a sustained period to eliminate the remaining parasite reservoirs. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01872702

Original publication

DOI

10.1186/s12936-018-2541-9

Type

Journal

Malaria Journal

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date

12/2018

Volume

17