Spread of “drug-resistant malaria” in South-east Asia a global threat – Scientists

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The rapid spread of “super malaria” in South-east Asia is an alarming global threat, scientists have warned.

This dangerous form of the malaria parasite cannot be tackled with existing anti-malaria drugs, the BBC reported on Saturday.

It emerged in Cambodia but has since spread through parts of Thailand, Laos and has arrived in Southern Vietnam.

The team at the Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok said there was a real danger of malaria becoming untreatable.

“It is alarming that this strain is spreading so quickly through the whole region and we fear it can spread further (and eventually) jump to Africa”, Arjen Dondorp, the head of the unit, told the BBC.

There is a red alert that malaria is becoming untreatable with the drug of choice, Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT), and the vector, mosquitoes, is becoming resistant to the recommended insecticide, pyrethroids, in more parts of the world.

A recent study carried out by scientists at the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, Yaba, Lagos, revealed that mosquitoes in 18 states in Nigeria have developed resistance to the LLIN insecticide nets, with Lagos, Ogun and Niger state having the highest incidence of cases.

Other states where the resistance was also detected include Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Benue, Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau, Anambra, Enugu, Rivers, Ondo, Osun and Oyo state, with the outcome of the study identified as a major threat to the eradication of malaria in Nigeria by 2030.

The Nigerian national statistics showed that malaria accounts for 60 per cent of hospital out-patients visits, 25 per cent infant deaths, 30 per cent of under-five deaths and 11 per cent of maternal mortality annually.

Godwin Ntadom, Head, Case Management Branch, National Malaria Elimination Programme could not be reached on Saturday to shed more light on the development.

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