Kenya on Friday called on Sub Saharan African (SSA) to step up surveillance on malaria drug resistance in the region.
Ben Andagalu, principal investigator of malaria at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) said that the countries should offer oversight on quality of malaria drugs coming into the countries.
“The procurement of malaria drugs needs to be procured by a centralised agency to help save populations from accessing outdated medicine,’’ Andagalu told the annual scientific and health conference in Nairobi.
Andagalu told health experts that artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) malaria drugs were recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the first line of treatment for Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
He added that the drugs have started showing resistance in South East Asian countries of Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
“Africa is currently spared but historically, malaria drug resistance has originated from South East Asia and then spread to Africa,” the researcher noted.
He said that the resistance of Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), sold under the brand name Fansidar, started in South East Asia and spread to SSA save for Madagascar that still uses the drug without resistance.
Andagalu observed that the emergence of drug resistance to ACTs in SSA and especially Kenya will be disastrous given there are limited alternative treatment options.
He called on governments to make quality of malaria healthcare high by ensuring that drugs entering the country are of utmost quality.
“Counterfeit drugs, substandard drugs and unregulated boundaries are to blame for drug resistance,’’ he noted.
Andagalu cautioned against the sale of malaria drugs over the counter, saying that the governments need to network patient diagnosis with the pharmacies where they purchase the drugs.
He said that the system that is being practiced by many countries ensures that patient data are logged in once a patient goes into pharmacy outlet.
“The system will enhance that patients gets quality drugs as prescribed as opposed to purchasing them over the pharmacy counter,’’ he added.