Illustrative image (Source: suckhoedoisong.vn)
 
Hanoi (VNA) - An increase in drug- resistant malaria cases in many regions nationwide is of growing concern to community health, experts have warned.

According to Dr Ngo Duc Thang from the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology, the first drug-resistant malaria case was found in 2009 in the southeast province of Banh Phuoc by malaria researchers from the HCM City-based Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU).

The resistance has spread to four additional provinces, including the Central Highlands provinces of Gia Lai and Dak Nong, and the central coastal provinces of Quang Nam and Khanh Hoa, he told Kinh Te va Do Thi (Economy and Urban Affairs) newspaper on February 14.

The doctor said resistance to a more dangerous malaria parasite (P. falciparum) carried by mosquitoes had risen among patients to more than 33 percent this year. Thang said the big concern now is the high risk of it spreading to other regions by migrant workers.

“I am worried that spread would lead to outbreaks, especially in the central and Central Highlands regions,” said the expert.

He explained that the most serious cause of drug-resistant malaria parasites was the wrong use of malaria drugs, with patients taking wrong doses.

"Increasing temperatures and rainfall in the central region also provide a favourable environment for mosquitoes infected with these parasites," he added.

Residents of the Mekong Delta and the northern region often travel to areas with high risk of malaria in the centre and Central Highlands to exploit wood or cassava. When they return, they can transmit the disease to relatives and neighbours.

"Treatment to drug-resistant malaria is more difficult and prolonged, and some patients even face a high risk of death," Thang said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) as the first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria caused by P.falciparum. ACT helps clear all parasites in malaria patients’ blood in three days.

However, the remedy only has 85.4 percent success, according to Thang.

In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed an increased resistance to a number of malaria medicines. In Vietnam, the number of malaria cases is still high, according to Dr Tran Thanh Duong, Director of the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology.

About 30,000 cases, including 100 acute ones, are reported every year.

The provinces with a continuing high rate of malaria over many years are Binh Phuoc, Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Quang Tri, Quang Nam, Phu Yen, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh.-VNA