Release: A simple and diffusible extensively test to study the resistance of malaria parasites to artemisinin derivatives – Phnom Penh, September 11 2013

1. Context

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In Cambodia, malaria with an incidence of 4.07 per 1,000 population and 135 deaths in 2010 (data from public health facilities) continues to be a major cause for public health and economic burden. Its control is given high priority by the government and development partners.

Forest villagers in the eastern and northern provinces are at high risk of malaria, with all age groups suffering infection; children under the age of five years are at highest risk of severe disease due to their lack of immunity. Elsewhere, malaria is an occupational disease with specific high-risk groups, including forestry workers, new settlers and mobile/migrant populations who have come into forested areas, and soldiers, and their families, serving in the forests.

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The five Plasmodium species known to cause malaria in humans (P. falciparum, P. vivax; P. malariae, P. ovale and P. knowlesi ) have already been described. Currently, P. falciparum remains the most frequent cause of malaria infections (prevalence of 63 % in 2011). However, distributions of Plasmodium species are changing since several years, with a particularly significant rising of P. vivax malaria cases (from 8% in 2000 to 37% in 2011). Moreover, in areas of low transmission, a proportion of P. vivaxinfections up to 50% is commonly found. This trend, probably related to various effective strategies implemented in Cambodia against P. falciparum malaria, shows clearly that we had significantly underestimated the burden of other simianPlasmodium species .river

Although there has been a steady reduction in the total number of clinically diagnosed and treated malaria cases as well as in the severe case fatality rate (CNM Annual Reports 2000 – 2009) over the last thirteen years, morbidity and mortality due to malaria remain high compared to other countries in the region. Malaria in Cambodia is also a key contributor to anaemia, complications during pregnancy, low-birth weight and poor child growth.

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In addition, multi-drug resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum are common, particularly in the west of the country. As with earlier antimalarials, we are now facing to the emergence of artemisinin resistance in western Cambodia while no suitable alternative currently exists for first-line treatments of P. falciparum malaria. As previously observed with chloroquine resistance in the last century, artemisinin-resistant parasites represent a major threat to worldwide goals of malaria eradication and the potential to devastate sub-Saharan Africa by increasing childhood mortality.


2. Major Areas of Research

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Scientific projects developed in the Malaria Molecular Epidemiology Unit are built around the concept of elimination of malaria in South East Asia .

They are mainly focused on three major areas of research:

  1. Supporting and evaluating the impact of strategies against malaria implemented by National Malaria Control Programmes
  2. Conduct researches focused on P. falciparum artemisinin resistant parasites.
  3. Conduct researches on vivax malaria & other emerging Plasmodium sp.

They are conducted in close collaboration with the Cambodian National Malaria Control Programme (CNM), WHO Global Malaria Programme and others regional or international partners (RIIP, IPP, European and US institutes or universities).

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  Toward Malaria Elimination
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  Resistance to Artemisinin
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  Plasmodium vivax Challenges
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