Thursday, 5 March 2009

Govt plans combination therapy to treat drug-resistant malaria


By Angel Navuri

The Government is planning to introduce a combination therapy treatment for malaria to address the problem of drug resistance in the country.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Aisha Kigoda told ‘The Guardian` in an exclusive interview that the therapy would help improve malaria treatment in the country.

Dr Kigoda was giving the country`s stand on the recent warning by World Health Organization (WHO) that the emergence of Artemisinin resistant parasites along Thai- Cambodia border could seriously undermine the global malaria control efforts achieved.

She explained that the government would sort out the monotherapy malaria drugs so that there won`t be confusion.

She said that the combination therapy would help treat all complicated malaria cases.

Surveillance systems and research studies supported by WHO to monitor anti malarial drug efficacy in countries are providing new evidence that parasites resistant to Artemisinin have emerged along the border between Cambodia and Thailand where workers walk for miles every day to clear forests.

The risk that they may be infected with a drug-resistant form of malaria could set back recent successes to control the disease.

``Huge strides have been made in the last ten years to reduce the burden of malaria, one of the world\'s major killer diseases.

Strong malaria control programmes have helped lower infection rates in several countries,`` says the statement.

It further states that the recent shift from failing drugs to the highly effective Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) has been a breakthrough, adding that appropriate treatment with ACTs succeeds in more than 90 per cent of cases.

WHO, with a US$22.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will endeavour to contain Artemisinin resistant malaria parasites now emerging along the Thai-Cambodia border before they spread and reverse the gains.

The statement added that WHO will work in collaboration with several key partners including the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control of the Cambodian Ministry of Health, Bureau of Vector-Borne Disease of the Thai Ministry of Public Health, Faculty of Tropical Medicine of Mahidol University Bangkok, Institut Pasteur Cambodia, Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Bangkok and the Malaria Consortium.

SOURCE: Guardian

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