More than half the world’s people are at risk of malaria infection. Most victims are children under five living in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
Recent progress against the mosquito-borne disease has been dramatic and numbers falling ill have been significantly reduced, but it still kills more than 420,000 people each year, the World Health Organization says.
Malaria specialists worldwide say emerging drug resistance in Asia is now one of the most serious threats to that progress.
From the late 1950s to the 1970s, chloroquine*-resistant malaria parasites spread across Asia and then into Africa, leading to a resurgence of malaria cases and millions of deaths.
Chloroquine was replaced by sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine*(SP), but resistance to SP subsequently emerged in western Cambodia and again spread to Africa.
The fear now is that the same pattern of resistance spread and the resurgence will repeat itself.
*Chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine are drugs used to cure malaria, however, overtime, probably due to poor use of the drugs, malaria parasites grow immunity over the drugs. This make it impossible for the drugs to help treat malaria patients.