The World Health Organization is screening all residents of 20 villages in northwest Cambodia where drug-resistant malaria has evolved in part due to the victims exposure to counterfeit anti-malarial medications.
The World Health Organization is in the midst of a six month course of screening every resident of 20 villages in northwest Cambodia where drug-resistant malaria has evolved due, in part, to the victims’ exposure to counterfeit anti-malarial medications which allowed the parasite to evolve resistance to the most effective treatment to malaria currently available.
NBC News interviewed Dr. Najibullah Habib, Malaria Containment Project Manager for the World Health Organization “Focused Screening and Treatment Project” which is screening twenty northwest Cambodian villages using sophisticated on-the-spot blood analysis for asymptomatic as well as symptomatic cases of malaria and treating them all for 28 days using Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACT). ACTs are multiple active ingredient drug therapies containing artemisinin and other malarial fighters including mefloquine, amodiaquine and sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine.
This is an attempt to wipe out artemisinin resistant malaria before it spreads world wide by the WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and other NGOS. WHO issued a report in November that stated that artemisinin resistant malaria has spread in part because of ineffective counterfeit drug treatments that have allowed the protozoan parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, to evolve drug resistance due to the lower than effective dosage of anti-malarial agents contained in the counterfeit medications.
According to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, “ACTs are the gold standard. They are the most effective treatment for falciparum malaria, the most deadly form of malaria. The consequences of widespread resistance to Artemisinin would be catastrophic. Resistance to previous generations of anti-malarial drugs such as chloroquine spread from the same Mekong region to India and then Africa, killing millions,” reports the Times of India.
Says Dr. Habib, “If [artemisinin resistant malaria continues to spread] it’s going to be a public health emergency because we’ll lose one of our most effective tools against malaria, which is artemisinin. “
However, the 800 people working on this project for six months through the combined efforts of multiple NGOs including the World Health Organization, have garnered initial results that “are encouraging,” says Habib.