Use of a Tablet Pole for Determining the Correct Dose of Praziquantel
Praziquantel (also known as Biltricide) is the drug given to children for treatment of schistosomiasis. The dose of praziquantel for each child depends on their weight – 40mg of praziquantel per kg of body weight. Since weight and height are related, height can be used instead of weight to find out the correct dose of praziquantel for each child.
Height poles (tablet poles), developed by Partnership for Child and Development, are constructed of straight lengths of hardwood to measure the height of each child. The poles are marked to show the correct number of praziquante tablets, to the nearest half tablet, that shoudl be given to each child, depending on their height.
Height pole consisting of five height intervals and the dosage of praziquantel (in tablets) assigned to each height interval.
Using the Tablet Pole
- The pole should be held upright on a flat surface. If necessary, flatten the ground and then hold the pole on a large flat piece of wood. One way to make sure that the pole is held upright is to hold it near to a piece of string that has a weight attached to one end, and the other end tied to a roof beam or tree branch, making a ‘plumb line’. This can be used to judge whether the Tablet Pole is upright.
- For each child to be treated, ask them to stand so that their spine is against the face of the pole on which the number of tablets is written. Put the child’s feet together so that they touch the base of the pole. The child should stand upright, looking straight ahead.
- Place a ruler on the child’s head and press down the hair so that the ruler is flat against the skull. Make sure that the ruler is level and makes an angle of 90 degrees with the height pole. Read the number of tablets that the child needs from the pole. If the ruler exactly touches the line between two doses of tablets (e.g., on the line between 1½ and 2), then give the higher dose of tablets. If children are taller than the markings on the pole for the highest dose of tablets, they should be referred to a clinic, for determining the correct dose of praziquantel.