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Could Malaria Become Untreatable?

A recent study in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet found emerging strains of medication-resistant malaria.  Resistant strains of malaria are now surfacing in some of the highest risk populations around the world.  The over-reliance and over-treatment with prescription medication is forcing the malaria causing parasite to adapt and mutate.

Researchers now state that the global efforts to eradicate malaria are now seriously compromised. In 2009 the researchers first noted possible mutations in the parasites.  Malaria parasites are most commonly spread by mosquitoes. 

The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit compiled data of more than 3,200 patients over a nine year period of time.  They found that the “most effective drugs” became less effective and over 20 percent of patients began to show resistance.  Resistance means that one is at greater risk of contracting the disease.

“It would certainly compromise the idea of eliminating malaria that’s for sure and will probably translate into a resurgence of malaria in many places” according to Professor Francois Nosten.

Mutated Parasite Impacts Millions?
It has already been deemed a possible public health disaster in sub-Saharan Africa where most of the malaria related deaths are found.  The spread of this mutated parasite could pose a serious risk to millions of people. 

Professor Nosten indicated that the diminished response to the standard worldwide treatment (artemisinin) could allow malaria to re-emerge anywhere. Currently medical researchers do not have any new drugs to replace artemisinin. 

Artemisinin is not usually used on its own.  The drug is commonly added to older medications to help combat mutations in the parasite.  The World Health Organization now recommends combination therapies. 

A very similar scenario occurred in the 1970’s with another malaria medication called chloroquine.  It appears that medications only act short-term and should not be relied on solely.  Without a medical breakthrough the previous rates of malaria 15 years ago can re-emerge impacting millions.

Who’s At Greatest Risk?

The World Malaria Report 2011 reported an estimated 655,000 people died in 2010.  The majority of these cases were pregnant women and very young children.  Researchers state that the primary reason is that the mothers cannot effectively pass natural levels of heightened immunity to their children through breast milk. 

In sub-Saharan Africa the HIV / AIDS epidemic is also impacting the strength of the mother’s and child’s immune system.  A mother with HIV / AIDS is not encouraged to breast feed because of the heightened risk of transmission.  Natural immunity and a strong immune system are compromised without this milk.

Mothers that have been treated with malaria drugs produce less natural antibodies because they relied on an artificial means of protection. This process may help the mother, but compromise the child. Malaria challenges the immune system to produce protective antibodies to pass on to the child.

Malaria affects millions of people worldwide. Approximately one child will die from the disease in Africa every minute. We must do what we can to build natural immunity and naturally prevent the condition from occurring.

Malaria Prevention Tips

A natural mosquito repellent. (Contact for recipe)

Use mosquito nets over your bed while sleeping.

Limit your outdoor activity during the dusk and dawn hours.

Strengthen your immune system through diet, exercise and stress management techniques.

Dr. Cory Couillard is an international healthcare speaker and columnist for numerous newspapers, magazines, websites and publications throughout the world. He works in collaboration with the World Health Organization's goals of disease prevention and global healthcare education. Views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.

Facebook: Dr Cory Couillard
Twitter: DrCoryCouillard


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