Malaria 'shows new resistance'2nd June 2009
Scientists have warned that the world may face a public health crisis fuelled by malaria, because the parasite is already developing resistance against some of the more recent drugs.
The last two generations of anti-malarial drugs were undermined by resistance, and researchers have yet to understand how the resistance happens.
Researchers in western Cambodia said one of the reasons in that part of the world might be non-compliance with drug guidelines, because people cannot easily afford medical care, and lack the supervision of trained healthcare providers.
A weak public health system and ill-supplied government clinics might also contribute to the problem.
Often, anti-malarial drugs are bought over the counter by patients directly, with no advice from a doctor.
Some pharmacists operate without training, or a government licence, so regulating the industry is also problematic.
Customers often make decisions about which drugs to buy depending on the price, and may often end up taking drugs in the wrong dosage, or combinations.
Nick Day, director of the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, which runs clinical trials in western Cambodia, said his team was finding that artesunate-type drugs - based on the Chinese herbal malaria drug artemisia - were already becoming less effective in the region.
He warned that the spread of this localised resistance should be urgently prevented, as it could lead to a global health disaster.
Major loss of life in Africa resulted from the last time a generation of drugs was made useless by resistance.
The spread once more of a newly resistant malaria parasite from Asia to Africa could be devastating, Day said.
Millions of people worldwide could lose their main hope in the battle against the deadly disease.
Around 60% of worldwide malaria cases and more than 80% of malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.
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Title: Malaria 'shows new resistance'
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 11548
Date Added: 2nd Jun 2009