Mumbai: By the time you're done watching this report, somewhere in the world - a child would have succumbed to malaria. A public health disaster in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South East Asia, Malaria poses a threat to a 100 crore Indians, according to the latest World Malaria Report. About 1.5 million people suffer from malaria annually.
A study published in the medical journal The Lancet, finds cases of drug resistance have spread from Cambodia, to neighbouring Thailand. Which means that in these areas, the most effective anti- malaria drug, artemisinin, no longer works - making malaria a fatal disease.
Head of Infectious Diseases at Jaslok Hospital Dr Om Shrivastav said, "It wil be a disaster if this drug resistant Malaria reaches Africa."
Scientists don't yet know whether the drug-resistant strain is spreading because of mosquitoes carrying the resistant parasites or due to a migrant population. Either way, the finding has sent alarm bells ringing for Health authorities back home.
Dr Shrivastav added, "It's time we look at our own malaria programme. Malaria drug resistance is a bigger issue than we recognise or accept."
The Lancet finding is particularly worrying for us, because in all earlier instances, drug resistant malaria has entered India through its porous eastern borders. Nevertheless in most cases, the traditional drugs are our first line of treatment.
In our country, in the majority of cases, traditional drugs are the first line of treatment, and are still effective And there is some good news.
After 15 years of research and development, the first batch of indigenously developed malaria drugs are being rolled out on World Malaria Day, at a third of the cost of current drugs. The Gurgaon-based Ranbaxy Labs will price the drugs at around Rs 200.