Severe malaria in children at Port Moresby General Hospital, Papua New Guinea

Brown, N.

Tropical and Geographical Medicine 47(3): 107-110


The demographic and clinical features of severe malaria in children on the south coast of Papua New Guinea have never been clearly documented. This prospective study sought to define the associations between ethnic origin, domain, age, nutritional status and severe malaria in this group and to assess significant clinical features, evaluate the use of a coma score as a prognostic indicator in cerebral malaria and to determine the ultimate outcome. Twenty patients with severe malaria (17 cerebral malaria and 3 severe anaemia) were studied. Their mean age of 4.96 years was significantly greater than that of matched controls with uncomplicated. Plasmodium falciparum infection with mean age 3.79 years (0.02 < p < 0.05). Nutritional status was not a significant independent risk factor when controlled against inpatients with other diagnoses. Low coma scores (Adelaide scale 4/14 or less) sensitively predicted the risk of dying vs survival. The mortality of 18% was comparable with other series. Current standard treatment with quinine and Fansidar was effective and no early recrudescence was encountered in the survivors. The degree of intermarriage and migration between regions precluded firm conclusions from being drawn as to the relevance of ethnic and geographical factors in the epidemiology of severe malaria in this region.