As World Malaria Day is marked Gov urged to stop the sale of substandard drugs
Linda Akrasi Kotey
Governments have been asked to make concerted efforts to stop the sale of fake and substandard drugs, and also put in stringent measures to stop the sale and use of single drug treatments for the treatment of malaria.
The media has also been urged to educate patients on the effects of non-compliance with the procedures in the treatment of the sickness, and also make intensive research and development on the ailment.
This came to light at a forum by the African Media and Malaria Research Network to mark World Malaria Day 2012, which fell yesterday. It was on the theme “Sustain gains, save lives and invest in Malaria.”
A pharmacist at the Police Hospital, Mrs. Ellen Sam, told the participants that previously, monotherapy with Chloroquine or Amodiaquine was used in the treatment of malaria, but now it has changed to a combination therapy due to resistance, and currently, the World Health Organisation recommends Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).
She added that the ACTs are the fastest rate of parasite clearance, hence the quick reduction in morbidity, and therefore, low mortality, stressing that it was far more complicated for a parasite to develop resistance to the two drugs used for the combination.
Mrs. Sam explained that Artemisinin is extracted from the tree Artemisia Annua, which has been used in China to cure fever for more than 1,000 years. The ACTs are made of two drugs – the Artemisinin which is potent, but fast clearing, and the partner drug, which slowly eliminates the parasite.
Currently considered as the world’s best treatment against malaria ACTs are one of the few effective treatments against the most serious and life threatening strain, plasmodium falciparum.
She said the ACTs are a major factor in the huge strides made in combating malaria, e.g. Artesunate Amodiaquine, Artemether Lumefantrine, Dihydroartemisinin, and Piperaquine
According to her, the major limitation for the ACTs was the cost involved, as a dose of the ACT cost between GH¢7.2 to GH¢18, making it highly unaffordable for the chunk of Ghanaians who are often bedeviled with malaria.
She said it was a potentially catastrophic situation, as there were currently no recommended alternative treatments, and currently, the WHO is working closely with the health ministries of Cambodia and Thailand and other partners to contain the situation.
Since the 1970s the border area between Cambodia and Thailand has become noteworthy of unusual scientific phenomena, as parasites in this area have uniquely developed resistance to a succession of malarial drugs like Chloroquine, Fansidar etc.
Resistance subsequently, spread to other parts of Asia and Africa, causing a surge in malaria deaths globally.
On his part, the head of the Pharmacovigilance unit of the University of Ghana Medical School, Prof. Alex Dodoo, stated that politicians do not have a commitment to the fight against malaria, as none of them was helping with the fight.
He mentioned that statistics available had shown that much resources has been contributed to the fight against malaria, as between the year 2000 to 2010, about one million lives had been saved.
Prof. Dodoo disclosed that the WHO had indicated that all governments should follow the T3, which stands for Test, Treat and Track.
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