Background: Glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PDd) rates are unknown in malaria-infected Cambodian patients. These data are key to a rational drug policy for malaria elimination of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax.
Methods: From September 2010-2012, a two-year survey of G6PDd and haemoglobinopathies assessed by quantitative enzyme activity assay and haemoglobin electrophoresis, respectively, was conducted in malaria-infected patients presenting to 19 health centres throughout Cambodia.
Results: A total of 2,408 confirmed malaria patients of mean age 26.7 (range 2-81) years were recruited from mostly western Cambodia (n = 1,732, 71.9%); males outnumbered females by 3.9:1. Plasmodium falciparum was present in 1,443 (59.9%) and P. vivax in 965 (40.1%) patients. Mean G6PD activity was 11.6 (CI 95%: 11.4-11.8) U/g Hb, G6PDd was present in 13.9% of all patients (335/2,408) and severe G6PDd (including WHO Class I and II variants) was more common in western (158/1,732, 9.1%) versus eastern (21/414, 5.1%) Cambodia (P = 0.01). Of 997/2,408 (41.4%) had a haemoglobinopathy. Mean haemoglobin concentrations were inversely related to age: 8.1 g/dL < five years, 8.7 g/dL five to 14 years, and 10.4 g/dL >15 years (P <0.001).
Conclusions: G6PDd prevalence, anaemia and haemoglobinopathies were common in malaria-infected patients. The deployment of primaquine in Cambodia should be preceded by primaquine safety studies paralleled with evaluations of easy to use tests to detect G6PDd.