With declining transmission of malaria in several regions of the world and renewed interest in the elimination of malaria, strategies for malaria control using antimalarial drugs are being revisited. Drug-based strategies to reduce transmission of malaria need to target the asymptomatic carriers of infection. Drugs that are effective against gametocytes are few in number, but it may be possible to reduce gametocyte production by killing the asexual stages, for which more drugs are available. Drugs for use in large-scale programmes must be safe and tolerable. Strategies include improving access to treatment for malaria with an efficacious drug, intermittent-treatment programmes, and mass drug administration, with and without screening for malaria. Recent proposals have targeted high-risk groups for interventions. None of the strategies has been rigorously tested with appropriate control groups for comparison. Because of the lack of field evidence, modelling has been used. Models have shown, first, that for long-lasting effects, drug administration programmes should be linked with vector control, and second, that if elimination is the aim, programmes are likely to be more successful when applied to smaller populations of a few thousand or less. In order to sustain the gains following the scaling up of vector control and use of artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), strategies that use antimalarials effectively need to be devised and evidence generated for the most cost-efficient way forward.
© 2011 The Authors. Clinical Microbiology and Infection © 2011 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.