Drug Resistant Malaria Strain Spreads Across Southeast Asia

Up to 80% of the most prevalent malaria parasite in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia are drug resistant.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — Drug-resistant forms of malaria are spreading across Southeast Asia, with frontline medicine reportedly having a high treatment failure rate. 

AFP reported that according to twin studies published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, up to 80 per cent of the most prevalent malaria parasite in areas in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia were now resistant to the two most popular antimalarial drugs.

The Plasmodium falciparum parasites have also reportedly acquired drug resistance, which the studies attributed to the failure of treatment in half of cases involving one of the newest and most powerful frontline medicine combinations.

“These worrying findings indicate that the problem of multidrug resistance in P falciparum has substantially worsened in southeast Asia since 2015,“ Olivo Miotto from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University of Oxford, who co-led the study, was quoted saying.

“This highly successful resistant parasite strain is capable of invading new territories and acquiring new genetic properties.”

Miotto reportedly warned of the “terrifying prospect” of the parasite spreading to Africa, where most malaria cases happen.

More than 200 million people are reportedly infected with the P falciparum parasite, resulting in 9 out of 10 malaria deaths around the world.

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