Does one have to wait for the symptoms of Malaria to show before taking Coartem? Will the Coartem still be effective in killing the malaria before it has entered the red blood cells and the fever has broken?
I believe that Coartem is only effective against the blood form of the parasite, hence why it is not effective in treating the liver forms of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale.
More to the point, if you don’t have symptoms of malaria you shouldn’t take any medication to treat it—improper use of treatment medication can lead to resistance to Coartem developing in the malaria parasite, which would be a tragedy as it is currently the front-line treatment for many millions of people affected by malaria around the world.
On a personal level, taking Coartem unnecessarily can also lead to unpleasant side effects. As such, you should always get tested and diagnosed as positive for malaria before taking treatment. As a rule of thumb, if you don’t have symptoms, you probably don’t have malaria (though if you live in a highly endemic area, you may be able to tolerate a certain burden of malaria without symptoms…but then you would also be very familiar with the symptoms). Generally speaking, testing asymptomatic people isn’t worthwhile.