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THERE IS HOPE: Drug-resistant malaria has not yet spread to parts of Africa

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/31/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Significant reductions in those falling ill, dying from mosquito-borne scourge

As the western part of the African continent struggles with the spread of the horrifying Ebola virus, there is hope on the health front - albeit one that must be taken advantage of in the time allotted. Drug-resistant malaria has proved to be a serious threat in many parts of Asia, there are no signs yet of resistance in the three African sites it covered in Kenya, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

While there have been significant reductions in the numbers falling ill and dying from the mosquito-borne disease, malaria still claims the lives of more than 600,000 people annually.

While there have been significant reductions in the numbers falling ill and dying from the mosquito-borne disease, malaria still claims the lives of more than 600,000 people annually.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
7/31/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Malaria, Africa, Southeast Asia, drug-resistant


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It may still be possible to prevent the spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites across Asia and then to Africa by eliminating them, but that window of opportunity is closing fast," Nicholas White, a professor of tropical medicine at Oxford University says. White has led current research and is chair of the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network.

Analyzing blood samples from 1,241 malaria patients in 10 countries across Asia and Africa, researchers found resistance to the world's most effective antimalarial drug, artemisinin. While drug-resistant malaria is now widespread in Southeast Asia, there are signs that it has yet to gain a foothold in Africa.

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Malaria remains a very worrisome condition for the majority of the world's population. More than half the world's people are at risk of malaria. Those most at risk are children younger than five years old living in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

The problem certainly has historical precedence. From the late 1950s to the 1970s, chloroquine-resistant malaria parasites spread across Asia to Africa, leading to a resurgence of malaria cases and millions of deaths. Chloroquine was replaced by sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine. Resistance again was developed and malaria re-emerged in western Cambodia and spread to Africa.

Artemisinin combination treatment, or ACT, currently in the frontline for malaria treatment, may now fall by the wayside in efforts to combat the disease.

A new study enrolled infected adults and children at 15 trial sites in 10 malaria-endemic countries between May 2011 and April 2013.

Patients there received a six-day antimalarial treatment, three days of an artemisinin derivative and a three-day course of ACT. Researchers analyzed their blood to measure the rate at which parasites are cleared from it.

Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum - the most deadly form of malaria-causing parasite - is now firmly established in Thailand, western Cambodia, Vietnam, eastern Myanmar and northern Cambodia.

While there have been significant reductions in the numbers falling ill and dying from the mosquito-borne disease, malaria still claims the lives of more than 600,000 people annually.

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