Addressing the threat of antimalarial drug resistance to malaria elimination in Southeast Asia

The Academy of Medical Sciences, the Thai Academy of Science and Technology, and Thailand’s National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology are convening a virtual policy workshop on antimalarial drug resistance in Southeast Asia on 28-29 October 2020.

Ongoing

The Academy of Medical Sciences, the Thai Academy of Science and Technology, and Thailand’s National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology are convening a virtual policy workshop on antimalarial drug resistance in Southeast Asia on 28-29 October 2020.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease, with a predicted 228 million cases and 405,000 deaths worldwide in 2018. It is caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, with P. falciparum and P. vivax posing the greatest threat. A global public health issue, the disease is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Western Pacific and the Americas.

Significant progress has been made towards the elimination of malaria in the Greater Mekong Subregion of Southeast Asia, with the number of cases falling by 74% and deaths by 95% between 2012 and 2018. However, the region still faces great challenges, with the disease concentrated in remote locations and resistance to antimalarial drugs reaching alarming levels in several areas, most notably the Cambodia-Thailand border.

Multiple factors have led to the emergence and spread of drug-resistant malarial parasites, including the use of oral artemisinin-based monotherapies instead of artemisinin-based combination therapies, as well as substandard drug quality. To combat resistance, initiatives must be put in place to promote the correct use of medicines, improve surveillance, and to control and eliminate malaria. Research to understand causes, mechanisms and successful interventions of resistance, and the development of new drugs and vaccines will also play a role. Furthermore, the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic in the region must be taken into account when deciding on any research priorities or policy interventions.

The main objective of this workshop is to discuss the ‘state of play’ of antimalarial drug resistance in the Southeast Asia region and identify priority areas for research and intervention. In addition, the workshop will provide a platform for countries to share knowledge and successful approaches on how to tackle the challenge of drug resistance. To achieve this, our aims are as follows:

  • Bring together evidence from all countries in the region on the current state of play of antimalarial drug resistance.
  • Identify country/region specific and shared research challenges and barriers to managing drug resistance.
  • Provide a platform for different countries to share their research experiences, challenges and successes to allow countries to learn from one another.
  • Agree on a list of research priorities and solutions to overcome the identified barriers, which can be addressed on a regional level.

Following the workshop, a written report will be produced and disseminated to stakeholders in the UK and Southeast Asia with identified next steps to address the threat of antimalarial drug resistance to malaria elimination in the region.

Click here to find out more about our previous GCRF workshops and read the workshop reports.

This workshop is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund that aims to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. Visit our GCRF webpage to read more about the fund. 

 

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