Drug-Resistant Malaria Returning ‘Aggressively’ to South-East Asia

The fight against malaria has taken a turn for the worse as drug-resistant malaria-carrying parasites are growing at alarming rates across South-east Asia.

Two studies by the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal revealed that the Plasmodium falciparum parasite had spread to about 80% of the “local parasite population” in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

According to the WHO, Malaria is a global epidemic that had around 219 million reported cases in 2017.

The parasite has also developed a resistance to about half the cases of the latest method of treatment – a new drug combination – reported The Guardian.

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Worrying Findings Say Researchers "“These worrying findings indicate that the problem m of multi-drug resistance in P falciparum has substantially worsened in south-east Asia since 2015.This highly successful resistant parasite strain is capable of invading new territories and acquiring new genetic properties.”" - Olivo Miotto, researcher from Wellcome Sanger Institute and University of Oxford, who co-led the study told The Guardian.

The researchers said that it had become the dominant stain in the regions studied, and worried about it spreading to other parts of the world like Africa where the disease is already rampant.

This would have disastrous outcomes on an already vulnerable population.

‘More than 200 People Affected with Resistant Parasite’

The P falciparum parasite causes an alarming nine in 10 malaria deaths worldwide, and another disturbing statistic reveals that more than 200 million people are affected.

According to The Guardian, a drug combination called DHA-PPO worked against the parasite at first, but in 2013 doctors noticed signs of resistance. The latest study into this revealed a failure rate of 87% in north-eastern Thailand and 53% in south-west Vietnam.

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(With inputs from The Guardian.)

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