Malaria Drug Resistance Growing

5 12 2010

In an article called “WHO fears growing malaria drug resistance may be spreading” found from the Voice of America News, I read that there are worries that in Asia this disease is becoming drug resistant. Or rather World Health Organization officials are afraid it is heading that way.

This fight covers more than 20 countries across Asia and more than two million people, each year, are at risk for contracting this sickness. The Asia region is said to account for more than 60 percent of the global population at risk of the parasite with the main focus on India, Burma, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Papa New Guinea. Officials are scared that the drug resistance could spread.

“We noticed years ago that the disappearance time for parasites to disappear from the blood is increasing. Usually they disappear in two days or less,” said Dr. Charles Delacollette, coordinator of the Bangkok-based WHO Mekong Malaria Program. “And we observe that there are an increasing proportion of patients showing parasites, still parasites in their blood after two days of artesunate treatment, which was not the case before.”

It is hypothesized that this is due to the sale of counterfeit medicines. Dr. Delacollette also states the growing drug resistance is in part due to the sale of substandard and counterfeit drugs. In recent years, authorities cracked down against illegal factories in China. Meanwhile, counterfeit producers have been found elsewhere, including Cambodia and Burma.

In spite the fact that counterfeits can kill just one person on the spot (ie the case in the 1990s where children took antifreeze, which was thought to be cough syrup), they can also wreak havoc on a number of people. Just like this case… a person can take a drug in which they think is genuine, but it is substandard and does not contain the true amount of the active ingredient so it makes the disease stronger. This then poses a threat to others because the disease gets stronger and will no longer take the genuine product form all its mutating. It is a viscous cycle.

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