A new form of malaria that is resistant to today’s standard treatment, currently being referred to as “Super Malaria,” has broken out in Southern Vietnam.
According to BBC, scientists are warning the public that the rapid spread of “Super Malaria” in Southeast Asia could pose a global threat. The first case of parasitic infection of this drug resistant Malaria was in Cambodia back in 2007. And ever since then, it has traveled across SEA to Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and now Vietnam.
Professor Arjen Dondorp, head of malaria department at the tropical medicine research unit at Mahidol University in Bangkok and co-author of the letter published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases medical journal, told AFP the new form of the disease is spreading like “wildfire to Vietnam.”
“We think it is a serious threat. 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,” the professor said on a different interview with BBC.
The World Health Organization, in 2015, has recorded over 212 million cases of Malaria with 429,000 deaths. The disease is transmitted through the bite of a female mosquito carrying the parasite.
“Around 700,000 people a year die from drug-resistant infections, including malaria. If nothing is done, this could increase to millions of people every year by 2050,” Michael Chew from the Wellcome Trust medical research told BBC.
Dondorp is currently at the helm of Regional Artemisinin-resistance Initiative (RAI) as its chairman to tackle the drug resistant “Super Malaria.” The initiative received a budget of US$243 million from the Global Fund, a financing organization in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia as an aid to battle the growing disease.
“We are not losing the race toward elimination, but we are at a crossroads. Malaria has never been so low, but the resistance problem is worsening. So the window of opportunity is limited. We have to make a big strike now,” said Dondorp on its statement.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / CDC