Partnering to Counter the Threat of Drug-resistant Malaria

On World Malaria Day, new partnerships show what’s possible; by David Reddy, CEO of the Medicines for Malaria Venture and Harald Nusser, Head of Novartis Social Business
Apr 26, 2017 11:00 AM ET
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Today is World Malaria Day, when the world’s attention turns to a mosquito-borne disease that infects millions of people in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America each year. The disease disproportionately affects children, and concerns about the possible emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria are intensifying — continued support and leadership from Europe will be essential to win the fight against malaria.

Along with other instances of anti-microbial resistance, including against antibiotics, growing resistance to artemisinin could have major public health ramifications. Artemisinin is the key ingredient in antimalarial treatment, and global malaria-eradication efforts rely upon it. Since 2000, malaria deaths among children under age five have declined by more than two-thirds thanks to proven malaria-control tools, including insecticide-treated bed-nets, indoor residual spraying with insecticides, and artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), the current standard of care to treat malaria. Yet, today, progress against malaria will be jeopardized if resistance to artemisinin takes hold before the next generation of medicines becomes available.

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