BACKGROUND: Ethiopia is among countries with a high malaria burden. There are several studies that assessed the efficacy of anti-malarial agents in the country and this systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to obtain stronger evidence on treatment outcomes of malaria from the existing literature in Ethiopia.
METHODS: A systematic literature search using the preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis (PRISMA) statement was conducted on studies from Pubmed, Google Scholar, and ScienceDirect databases to identify published and unpublished literature. Comprehensive meta-analysis software was used to perform all meta-analyses. The Cochrane Q and the I 2 were used to evaluate heterogeneity of studies. Random effects model was used to combine studies showing heterogeneity of Cochrane Q p < 0.10 and I 2 > 50.
RESULTS: Twenty-one studies were included in the final analysis with a total number of 3123 study participants. Treatment outcomes were assessed clinically and parasitologically using World Health Organization guidelines. Adequate clinical and parasitological response was used to assess treatment success at the 28th day. Overall, a significant high treatment success of 92.9% (95% CI 89.1-96.6), p < 0.001, I 2 = 98.39% was noticed. However, treatment success was higher in falciparum malaria patients treated with artemether-lumefantrine than chloroquine for Plasmodium vivax patients [98.1% (97.0-99.2), p < 0.001, I 2 = 72.55 vs 94.7% (92.6-96.2), p < 0.001, I 2 = 53.62%]. Seven studies reported the adverse drug reactions to anti-malarial treatment; of 822 participants, 344 of them were exposed to adverse drug reactions with a pooled event rate of 39.8% (14.1-65.5), p = 0.002.
CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of this review, anti-malarial treatment success was high (92.9%) and standard regimens showed good efficacy against Plasmodium falciparum (98.1%) and P. vivax (94.7%) infections in Ethiopia, but associated with high rates of adverse drug reactions (ADRs). However, these ADRs were not serious enough to discontinue anti-malarial treatment. The results of this study suggest that the current anti-malarial medications are effective and safe; however, greater priority should be placed on the discovery of new anti-malarial drugs to achieve successful outcomes as resistance seems inevitable since cases of anti-malarial drug resistance have been reported from other areas of the world.