A threatening spread of antimalarial drug-resistant malaria has been reported around the border of Myanmar and India. Scientists fear that if the mosquito-borne disease is to spread in India, it will become very difficult to ensure a global control of its spread. The deadly disease renders important medicines useless and is completely resistant to artemisinin, an antimalarial drug. In addition, there is also a risk of the disease to spread in Africa, risking millions of lives.
Anti-malaria drug artemisinin resistant disease is posing a serious threat to repeat history if it happens to cross the Myanmar border and reach India. History had also shown that there is a potential threat of a spread of the disease from Asia to Africa. It is also likely that the disease emerges independently in Africa, as witnessed previously. If such an event were to occur, it would risk millions of lives, scientists fear.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal has published the reports obtained by a study conducted by Charles Woodrow from the tropical drugs research division of Mahidol-Oxford. He and team did research in the Oxford University with 940 parasite samples from 55 centers in Myanmar offering malaria treatment. In their study, they found that around 40% of the obtained samples carried mutated kelch gene, K13. The mutation is a genetic identification for artemisinin drug resistance.
Scientists also confirmed the existence of the parasites in Homalin, located in the Sagaing Region that lies around 25 km from India’s border.
Scientists are fearing a repetition of history that was witnessed in the period between late 1950s to the 1970s. At the time, chloroquine-resistant malaria had spread from Asia to Africa causing millions of deaths. As they replaced chloroquine with sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), the parasites became resistant to that too eventually. Later, the artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) was introduced to replace SP. However, researchers are dreading that this time, these parasites may be resistant to ACT.