Added by Monique Robinson on November 22, 2010
A statement issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that the anti-malaria drug resistance first detected in the Cambodia-Thailand border region in February 2009 seems to be spreading across Asia.
The international body said that the malarial drug in question is artemisinin, and although further research is required, early evidence has been reported to indicate that artemisinin resistance is also spreading along the Myanmar-Thailand border.
The current WHO study discovered that along the Myanmar-Thailand border, 10-20 per cent of malaria patients being treated with an artemisinin combination therapy continued to show malarial parasites in their blood after three days of treatment.
Similarly, at the China-Myanmar border a quarter of malaria patients still showed signs of parasites after undergoing a three-day treatment of artesunate monotherapy.
Similar trends have also been observed in Vietnam.
The statement added: “There is also concern that resistance could spread from the Cambodia-Thailand border to Africa, as it did with anti-malaria drugs such as chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in the 1960s and 1970s.”
As a result, the WHO is urging countries to enforce “careful monitoring” of the efficacy of malarial drugs, noting that only 34 per cent of countries with a malaria endemic comply with monitoring recommendations.
According to the WHO, some 860,000 people die every year from malaria.