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WHO warns against drug-resistant malaria

MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday warned the Philippines and other malaria endemic countries in the Western Pacific Region against the possible spread of drug-resistant malaria.

WHO authorities reported there are increasing signs that malaria is developing a greater resistance to commonly used drugs, thus endangering efforts to control and eliminate the disease.

Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, said the rising prevalence of drug-resistant malaria in Mekong, Cambodia must be contained soon to avoid the possibility of its becoming a regional and international threat.

WHO said health workers in Mekong are now struggling to contain a strain of malaria that is becoming increasingly resistant to artemisinin, the most effective drug available to fight the disease.

“If these efforts fail, plans to eliminate deaths globally from malaria could be put at risk,” WHO health experts said.

WHO expressed fear that wide availability of low-quality and counterfeit drugs in some countries like Cambodia and the improper use of medicine, such as antibiotics and antimalarials including artemisinin, could hamper efforts to eliminate the disease.

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WHO and other donors have already undertaken efforts to contain artemisinin-resistant malaria on the Thai-Cambodia border.

Meantime, amid the rising incidence of drug-resistant malaria, the Department of Health (DOH) has revised the guidelines on diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the drug combination artemether-lumefantrine (AL) will be used in the treatment of malaria as it has proven to be more effective than the government’s traditional first-line drugs.

Duque said the revision in the treatment of malaria is the country’s contribution to the observance of World Malaria Day today.

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