Ensuring Quality Control Of Drugs Critical To Malaria Elimination Efforts

SciDev.Net: Eliminating malaria demands quality drugs
Sivong Sengaloundeth, former deputy director of the Food and Drug Department in Lao PDR and champion of the Meds We Can Trust Campaign

“…[The Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) is] coming to grips with a growing challenge to [eliminating malaria]: drug-resistant malaria. … Resistance to artemisinin was detected in the GMS around the same time researchers discovered that between 38 and 90 percent of sampled artemisinin medicines were substandard or spurious. The medicines did not contain enough active ingredients to effectively kill the malaria parasite, which allowed it to develop immunity to the medicine. … [C]ountries should ensure that the medicines imported or purchased for their health systems are quality-assured. Government agencies — including health, customs, and justice departments — must work across national boundaries to share issues in real time. Timely data sharing will allow us to catch spurious antimalarials before they reach our hospitals, health centers, and market stalls. Consistent data collection will help inform solutions and policy decisions. But these efforts will require more sustained funding from donors and countries alike. Finally, physicians, pharmacists, and health workers who are on the frontlines of malaria response must be equipped with the training and tools they need to detect fake medicines before they ever reach our patients’ hands … By safeguarding [the GMS] region against poor-quality antimalarials, we can carry forward the promise of malaria elimination not just at home but around the world” (5/16).