Current Weather
The Spy FM

Drug-Resistant Malaria On The Rise In Southeast Asia

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
November 6, 2012

For malaria in Southeast Asia, there’s good news and bad news right now. Overall, the number of cases is down, but there’s a growing problem of drug resistance in the cases that do crop up.

Researchers worry that superstrains of the parasite — strains immune to the most common medications — could wipe out the recent progress against malaria.

Even more worrisome is the prospect that that drug resistance could spread to India and eventually to Africa. And on this front, history isn’t very comforting. In the past Southeast Asia has been a hot spot for malaria drug resistance.

“Resistance to chloroquine and pyrimethamine started here,” says Arjen Dondorp, who directs malaria research at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok. “Those two were very important drugs until recently. Very cheap, good drugs. We’ve lost them to resistance, especially here in the region. And then it has spread from here to the rest of the world.”

The current resistance is developing to artemisinin-based drugs — the last, best treatments we have to stop malaria.

When this family of medicines first came on the market, they appeared to be wonder drugs. Over the last decade, they have proven incredibly effective at treating malaria around the world.

Global deaths from the mosquito-borne disease have fallen from roughly a million a year in 2000 to 650,000 in 2010. Simultaneously, the number of malaria cases has dropped, and these gains are attributed mainly to the use artemisinin.

Dondorp says if the artemisinin drugs start to fail on a large scale, it could be a major setback for malaria control efforts globally. “Chloroquine resistance was very bad in the ’90s before the artemisinin drugs were introduced and has caused millions of deaths in Africa,” he says. “So the big fear is that the same could happen with artemisinins.”

The resistance currently is being found on both sides of Thailand’s border with Myanmar in the west and Cambodia in the east. There have also been reports of malaria drug resistance in Vietnam. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

7PM to 9PM Millions Now Listening Will Never Die

Millions Now Listening Will Never Die

Our post-punk show, Millions Now Listening Will Never Die, is hosted by the legendary Jon Mooneyham. Jon is also an adjunct teacher at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma. He played guitar in the Flaming Lips back in the day and has met and interviewed practically every band alive.

Listen Live Now!

9PM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center