Malaria Cris Bouroncle/Getty Images

De dodelijke comeback van malaria

SINGAPORE – De dramatische daling van het aantal malariadoden sinds begin deze eeuw is één van de grote succesverhalen uit de gezondheidszorg van de afgelopen jaren. Dankzij gerichte investeringen in preventie, diagnose en behandelingen is het aantal mensen dat ieder jaar ten prooi valt aan de ziekte sinds 2000 met 60% afgenomen, waardoor ruim zes miljoen levens zijn gered.

En toch wordt deze opmerkelijke terreinwinst bedreigd door de toenemende resistentie tegen geneesmiddelen, ook al lijkt de verwezenlijking van de droom van de eliminatie van malaria steeds dichterbij te komen. De resistentie tegen het meest effectieve anti-malariamiddel, artemisinine, is in Cambodja opgedoken en verspreidt zich nu door de hele Mekong-delta.

Zonder doelmatig en tijdig optreden zal deze nieuwe, resistente vorm van malaria wijdverbreid raken – een patroon dat zich al tweemaal eerder heeft voorgedaan, met oudere malariamedicijnen. Overheden, internationale organisaties, groeperingen uit de burgersamenleving en bedrijven moeten dringend stappen zetten om een epidemie van resistente malaria te voorkomen en de terugkeer van een pijnlijke periode te belemmeren.

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