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TIME Examines Efforts To Combat Malaria Resistance Along Thai-Cambodia Border

TIME reports on evidence along the Thai-Cambodia border that the malaria parasite is gaining resistance to artemisinin – “the only remaining effective drug in the world’s arsenal against malaria’s most deadly strain.”

“With the help of tens of millions of dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and various governments, the global health community – from biochemical engineers in Berkeley to village volunteers in Battambang, Cambodia – is racing to eliminate the increasingly resistant parasite before it’s too late,” the magazine writes. 

One element of the strategy to reduce resistance is Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm), a $220 million Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria project that will subsidize artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), so “the best malaria medicine will, for the first time in Cambodia, also be the cheapest.”

According to TIME, the President’s Malaria Initiative Deputy Coordinator Bernard Nahlen “says that spending hundreds of millions before there’s any proof that the plan will work is an ill-advised investment of finite malaria funds.” Nahlen said, “In the absence of evidence, it’s a little difficult to make that leap.” Time writes that last year “Congress specifically forbid any of the $48 billion the U.S. government slated for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria from going to the AMFm program until it proved successful.”

Other issues addressed in the article include counterfeit medicines, prevention measures and ACTs versus taking artemisinin alone (Shay, 11/13).