Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine or sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine for the chemoprevention of malaria in children with sickle cell anaemia in eastern and southern Africa (CHEMCHA): a protocol for a multi-centre, two-arm, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled superiority trial

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Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)


Background: An estimated 300,000 babies are born with sickle cell anaemia (SCA) annually. Affected children have chronic ill health and suffer premature death. Febrile illnesses such as malaria commonly precipitate acute crises in children with SCA. Thus, chemoprophylaxis for malaria is an important preventive strategy, but current regimes are either sub-optimally effective (e.g. monthly sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine, SP) or difficult to adhere to (e.g. daily proguanil). We propose dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) as the agent with the most potential to be used across Africa.

Methods: This will be a randomised, double-blind, parallel-group superiority trial of weekly single-day courses of DP compared to monthly single-day courses of SP in children with SCA. The study will be conducted in eastern (Uganda) and southern (Malawi) Africa using randomisation stratified by body weight and study centre. Participants will be randomised using an allocation of 1:1 to DP or SP. We will investigate the efficacy, safety, acceptability and uptake and cost-effectiveness of malaria chemoprevention with weekly courses of DP vs monthly SP in 548 to 824 children with SCA followed up for 12–18 months. We will also assess toxicity from cumulative DP dosing and the development of resistance. Participant recruitment commenced on 30 April 2021; follow-up is ongoing.

Discussion: At the end of this study, findings will be used to inform regional health policy. This manuscript is prepared from protocol version 2.1 dated 1 January 2022.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.