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International Scientists’ Network To Map Drug-Resistant Malaria

PTI/Hindu reports on the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) – an “international network of malaria scientists,” which will be “established to map the emergence of resistance” to malaria drugs and “guide global efforts to control and eradicate the disease.” The goal of WWARN, which “will integrate the efforts of researchers, NGOs and public health experts in malaria-endemic areas around the world,” is to provide “comprehensive and rigorous evidence” for policy makers, which will help them “select the best anti-malarial treatments and to formulate strategies to control the critical problem of resistance wherever it arises,” PTI/Hindu writes.

Philippe Guerin, director of WWARN and an epidemiologist in the Centre for Tropical Medicine at the University of Oxford, said, “With this critical mass of data, we will have powerful evidence to help inform decisions by policy makers.” He added, “It is crucial that we provide all patients with access to the right drugs at the right time.”

According to the newspaper, the initiative was born about four years ago “in the scientific community as malaria scientists became aware that broad collaboration was critical to achieving the long-term goal of eliminating the disease.” The organization will collaborate closely with the WHO on malarial drug-resistance surveillance and is funded by a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant.

According to PTI/Hindu, evidence emerging from Cambodia suggests the parasite is even developing a tolerance to artemisinin (PTI/Hindu, 6/12). Counterfeit pills from China and other places are weakening the artemisinin in Cambodia, where at least three once-potent malaria drugs lost their effectiveness in before becoming useless in other parts of the world (Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, 5/21).

Nick J. White – a professor of Tropical Medicine at Mahidol University in Thailand and Oxford University, and chair of the WWARN board – said, “We need readily accessible, quality assured and up-to-date information on anti-malarial drug resistance if we are to eliminate malaria. WWARN will provide this essential intelligence” (PTI/Hindu, 6/12).   

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.