A new report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the primary United Nations health agency, urges countries with endemic malaria to keep better track of the medicines used to treat malaria patients, particularly the drug artemisinin.
Say it together: Artemisinin (Are – tuh –miss – i –nin). Artemisinin.
Why the focus on keeping tracking of this medicine, among others?
According to a recent article, artemisinin is “the most effective treatment against malaria” and, by accurately tracking its use around the world, resistance to the drug can be tracked. As time passes, over-use and over-reliance on one medicine to treat malaria patients (in this case, artemisinin) can weaken the medicine’s ability to fight the parasite that causes malaria — this is called drug resistance.
By effectively tracking the use of artemisinin and other medicines, the good people at WHO can see what medicines are being used the most and where they are being used, in order to ensure that artemisinin remains an effective treatment for malaria patients.
And, if artemisinin can no longer make malaria patients well again, the authors of the report predict that there will be resistance to other drugs used to treat malaria. The report, which is full of more hard-to-pronounce words, shows why it is so important to prevent malaria.
If people are sleeping under the protection of insecticide-treated bed nets, they are far less likely to contract malaria in the first place — so they won’t need to be treated with medicines like artemisinin! Keep up the great work sending nets and saving lives!