Going on holiday, visiting a friend or even moving house; whatever your reason for travelling to a country affected by malaria, it’s vital to take the right long or short-term precautions. Probably the most important precaution is, of course, medication: certain treatments can reduce the risk of catching malaria by a whopping 90%.

The notion of malaria medication can be daunting, so we’re here to give you a short, simple guide on which medications are necessary and why they’re used.

DAUNTING: We’re here to help make sense of it all | Photograph: Infiniti Research

Before travelling, you should always consult your doctor. They will consider your specific circumstances and make a measured decision on which drug you should be taking.

  • Destination
  • Relevant family medical history
  • Medical history, including any medicinal allergies
  • Whether you’ve had problems with antimalarial medicines in the past
  • Age
  • Pregnancy

Here is the malaria medication you need to know about when travelling.

Mefloquine (Lariam)

Dosage: An adult’s dose is generally 1 tablet of varied strength weekly. Children also take 1 dose a week, however, the child’s weight affects the strength needed. Here are the online pharmacies selling the drug.

Tips and recommendations: Avoid taking Mefloquine if you suffer from epilepsy, depression or seizures as the drug is known to produce abnormally dangerous side effects. The drug is also recommended to not be taken by those with heart problems, other mental health issues. if you haven’t taken mefloquine before, your doctor will likely perform a 3-week trial before you travel to see whether you develop any side effects.

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Potential side effects: dizziness, headache, sleep disturbances and psychiatric reactions

Atovaquone Plus Proguanil

Dosage: The adult dose is usually 100 mg daily in tablet form. Travellers should start to take their daily dosage 2 days before travelling.

Tips and recommendations: The drug is not suitable for pregnant women and children under the age of 12. It is also strongly advised not to take Atovaquone if you suffer from kidney problems. You should also take the drug 7 days after you return from your destination.

Potential side effects: stomach upset, headaches, skin rash and mouth ulcers.

Doxycycline

Dosage: The common dose for Doxycycline is 100 mg daily in capsule or tablet form. Again, the dosage should start 2 days before your departure.

Tips and recommendations: The drug is not suitable for pregnant women and those under the age of 12. The drug is also not recommended for who react badly from tetracycline antibiotics or suffer from liver problems.

Potential side effects: stomach upset, heartburn, thrush, and sunburn

Tafenoquine

Tafenoquine is a relatively new consumer antimalarial. It has recently been approved for sale in the US, however other countries are still in the process. Once on the market, the drug has the potential treat recurring P. vivax malaria and save millions of lives. It has been used in military operations and has received criticism for its potential side effects.

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An individual must undergo a G6PD blood test before taking the drug. Such testing requirements can only be conducted in first world countries, leaving many wondering whether the drug can be used in the developing world.

CONTROVERSIAL: Tafenoquine has been scrutinised for its dangerous side effects. | Photograph: GSK

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