News Outlets Examine Malaria Drug Resistance, Hope For Malaria Eradication In Africa

Experts at an American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting this week said that resistance to the best available drug to treat malaria “is more widespread in Southeast Asia than previously reported,” Science News/Wired Science reports. Researchers have been monitoring drug resistance along the Thailand-Cambodia border where patients taking artemisinin combination therapy – the most potent treatment for malaria – have been clearing the parasite from their bodies more slowly. 

According to Science News/Wired Science, now this resistance “has appeared in Vietnam and in two spots along the Burma border with Thailand and China.” Robert Newman, who heads up the Global Malaria Program at WHO, indicated these findings are preliminary and require further investigation, but said, “Things are changing. There’s no doubt the signs are concerning” (Seppa, 11/19).

In related news, VOA News reports that “[w]ith a promising new anti-malaria vaccine [RTS,S] in its final stage of testing, researchers around the world are optimistic they are finally making progress toward ending the deadly disease.” The article features quotes from several experts, including WHO medical officer Vasee Moorthy, who said, “A vaccine, we would see as one element of a coordinated malaria control program, and it will be for countries to determine how any new vaccine would fit in with all of the existing malaria control measures, which would continue to have an absolutely vital role.”

The article looks at other issues surrounding the vaccine and the socio-economic impact eradicating malaria in Africa could have (Babb, 11/19).

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