- Severe malaria, marked by serious symptoms such as coma, convulsions, or difficulty breathing, progresses rapidly and is particularly deadly. Those who manage to survive are often left with life-long neurological damage.
- Severe malaria is still mostly treated with the drug quinine, while uncomplicated malaria is treated with drugs containing derivates of artemisinin, an extract from a Chinese plant. In early 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) strongly recommended that adults with severe malaria be treated with artesunate, a derivate of artemisinin, because it is more effective and has fewer side effects than quinine.
But wider obstacles remain: WHO treatment recommendations have yet to be revised in light of the latest evidence in children, and most countries have yet to recommend artesunate in place of quinine for either adults or children. And international donors have yet to put their full weight behind the latest evidence.