Malaria Cris Bouroncle/Getty Images

Malaria’s Deadly Comeback

Even as the dream of eliminating malaria seems closer to becoming reality, growing drug resistance is threatening recent gains. With millions of lives at risk, governments, international organizations, civil-society groups, and companies must take urgent steps to stop a painful history from recurring.

SINGAPORE – The dramatic drop in malaria deaths since the beginning of the century is one of the great public-health success stories of recent years. Thanks to concerted investments in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, the number of people killed by the disease each year has declined 60% since 2000, saving more than six million lives.

And yet, even as the dream of eliminating malaria seems closer to becoming reality, growing drug resistance is threatening these remarkable gains. Resistance to the most effective antimalarial medicine, artemisinin, has emerged in Cambodia and is spreading across the Mekong Delta region.

Without effective and timely action, this new, resistant form of malaria will become widespread – a pattern that has already occurred twice with older malaria medicines. Governments, international organizations, civil-society groups, and companies must take urgent steps to prevent an epidemic of resistant malaria and stop a painful episode from recurring.

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