Are national treatment guidelines for falciparum malaria in line with WHO recommendations and is antimalarial resistance taken into consideration? – A review of guidelines in non-endemic countries

Marc T Visser, Rens Zonneveld, Thomas J Peto, Michele van Vugt, Arjen M Dondorp, Rob W van der Pluijm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Plasmodium falciparum infections are a relatively rare but potentially deadly disease found in returning travellers. We compare the national treatment guidelines of non-endemic countries with the WHO guidelines for the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum infections. Methods: Review. We identified non-endemic countries with an incidence rate of imported malaria of at least one per 100,000 population and at least 50 cases annually. Using PubMed and Google Search, we reviewed national guidelines published before 1 March 2021. Results: Thirteen guidelines were identified. For uncomplicated falciparum malaria, 11 of 13 countries (85%) recommend an artemisinin-based combination therapy as first-line regimen in adults, of which artemether–lumefantrine was the most common. For severe malaria, all guidelines recommend the use of intravenous artesunate. Only three countries adjust treatment recommendations based on expected artemisinin resistance. Conclusion: Treatment guidelines for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in non-endemic countries generally adhere to WHO recommendations but often fail to mention the risk of drug resistance in returning travellers. Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) should be the first choice for all uncomplicated malaria cases. Furthermore, the choice between ACTs should be based on regional resistance patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-136
Number of pages8
JournalTropical Medicine & International Health
Issue number2
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • WHO
  • guidelines
  • malaria
  • review
  • treatment

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