The National- Monday, January 24, 2011
By ELIZABETH VUVU
A NEW drug to treat malaria called artemether-lumerfantrine, will be available in April in the country.
The need for an upgraded treatment for the disease was due to the strong resistance of malaria to the chloroquine drug which was widespread and becoming a concern in Papua New Guinea with the government declaring it as one of the top five priority illnesses.
The drug is a combination of two drugs into one tablet known as mala-1.
Artemeter derives from artemisinin, a plant native to China, and it was recommended that artemisinin was used in combination with another drug lumerfantribe to prevent malaria parasites not to learn the single drug alone.
According to Annette Coppola of the Department of Health, the drug would kill parasites quickly with the patient feeling well, it would work on malaria parasites and help to prevent transmission of malaria to other people and well-tolerated.
She said the single drug of Artemisinins in chloroquine was not recommended for the treatment of falciparum malaria in PNG.
She said Mala-1 was used worldwide in tropical countries.
Meanwhile, when asked why it had taken so long to phase out the use of Chloroquine in PNG and to use Mala-1, Dr Zaixing Zhang, a malariologist with World Health Organisation (WHO) said PNG had to have evidence why choloroquine was not effective and research to say which drug was appropriate for PNG and in this case it was Mala-1.
He said the PNG Institute of Medical Research had taken on this difficult task in the past years collecting data in different areas.
Zaixing said due to the fact that chloroquine was a cheap drug, many countries had been dragging their feet to get new malaria drugs.
Mala-1 was more expensive than other malaria drugs and packaging was made overseas and the department would know if it was illegally being sold on the streets.