Malaria kills over a million children in Africa each year, despite the availability of effective antimalarial drugs. It has not been clear why the children die, even after receiving treatment.

The St Mary’s/Imperial College research team undertook a study to understand the reasons why the children die. By taking sophisticated intensive care methods and monitoring to Kenya, and studying severely ill children there in collaboration with local doctors and researchers, the team were able to show that a high proportion of deaths are due to an imbalance of fluids in the body.

A trial of treatment with different fluids has shown that relatively simple treatments can dramatically reduce the death rate.