Malaria: global battle to contain disease set back as powerful drugs lose potency

Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 13:31 in Health & Medicine

Misuse of artemisinin drug on Thai-Burma border allowing parasitic resistance to develop that could spread worldwideThe global fight against malaria is being threatened by growing resistance to powerful new drugs which have become one of the most important weapons in the battle.Experts say that the medical effects of artemisinin-based compounds, being used to treat people around the Burma/Thailand border, are weakening. Where there were once apparently miraculous recoveries of children treated with artemisinin-combination therapy (ACT) now the treatments take longer to be effective.Doctors envisage a time, when, if nothing is done, the drugs will cease to work at all.Malaria parasite resistance to the drugs has been identified in western Cambodia but it was hoped that tough controls would contain it. Now, however, scientists say there are real problems in Burma – and they warn that resistance there must be tackled if it is not to spread worldwide.They warn that history...

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