U.S. CDC, FDA, Armed Forces Taking Action To Fight Malaria

Testifying before Congress this week, CDC Director Thomas Frieden “said the challenge in the fight against malaria, which in Africa alone kills one child every minute, is staying one step ahead of the malaria parasite” and “cited the need for better public health surveillance, and urged Congress to fund better detection tools,” VOA News reports. “Frieden [also] told members of Congress a critical weapon in the war on malaria is ensuring that artemisinin is used wisely so it continues to be effective,” and he highlighted drug resistance in Southeast Asia, according to the news agency. “Frieden added that eradicating [malaria] by 2015 will require unflinching policy commitments and sustained funding by the international community,” VOA writes (4/24).

Meanwhile, officials from the Food and Drug Administration “announced Wednesday a plan to test a handheld scanner that can tell, within seconds, if malaria drugs are real or fake,” in an effort to minimize counterfeit medicines from reaching the market, GlobalPost reports. The pilot program aimed at “identifying counterfeit and substandard malaria drugs will begin later this year in Ghana,” the news service states, noting, “A study released last year showed that more than a third of malaria pills used in Africa and Asia are fake or of bad quality” (Langlois, 4/24). And the American Forces Press Service reports on a meeting of the West Africa Malaria Task Force in Accra, Ghana. “Medical and military representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo are participating in the program, sponsored by the U.S. Armed Forces Health Center,” the news agency writes (Owolabi, 4/24).

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