New malaria drugs 'may spur war on all diseases'
Melbourne: The search for new medicines to beat malaria could spur developments in the fight against other diseases, researchers have claimed.
“Malaria could be the tide that lifts all the boats,” the Daily Telegraph quoted Dr Alan Magill, director of the malaria program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as saying.
Magill said that the goal was not only to find new drugs to treat malaria but to find “quality medicines for all patients with all diseases.”
According to him, substandard, poor quality and counterfeit drugs had encouraged malaria drug resistance, which has been detected in the Greater Mekong region of Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and Vietnam.
Experts have warned of a potential 25 percent spike in deaths, particularly if that strain reaches Africa, and World Health Organisation (WHO) figures for 2010 show 216 million cases of malaria resulting in 655,000 deaths, although unofficial estimates put that figure at up to 900,000, the vast bulk of them in Africa.
In the Asia-Pacific 30 million people contract the disease each year, resulting in 42,000 deaths.
Magill said the Asia-Pacific had a global responsibility to address the drug resistance in a “very aggressive fashion.”
As a manufacturer of much of the world’s anti-malaria tools, the region also had a responsibility to produce high quality products like bed nets treated with insecticide.
The conference has heard that while the world seeks the next generation of drugs, more must be done to contain or slow down the spread of drug-resistant malaria.
Experts at the meeting said that it could be five years before a new drug is produced, while the cost of finding and developing new drugs has been estimated at 1 billion dollars over 10 years.
The findings of the study were presented at an international malaria conference in Sydney on Thursday.