Experts have long been concerned about the rise of drug resistance across the continent, which accounted for more than 90% of malaria deaths in 2019.
The researchers said the first clinical evidence was that drug-resistant mutations of the parasite responsible for malaria were taking place in Africa.
Experts have long been concerned about the rise of drug resistance across the continent, which accounts for more than 90 percent of malaria deaths worldwide in 2019.
A new study published in The Lancet on Thursday confirmed the allegations.
Studies have shown that, in clinical trials, the disease is prolonged in children receiving quality treatment for malaria, the study found.
The efficacy of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) was high, but researchers said more research was needed in Rwanda, as well as in neighboring countries.
There are about 229 million cases of malaria worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In 2019, the disease killed more than 400,000 people, more than two-thirds of them children
Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite that carries several dozen species of female mosquitoes of the Anopheles gene.
“Our study shows that resistant isolation is becoming more common,” said Alain Uvimana, a lead author and researcher at the Rwanda Biomedical Center in Kigali.
Introduced in the early 2000s, ACTs are the most effective and widely used treatment for malaria.
The drug mixes an artemisinin ingredient that clears most pathogens from the patient’s body within three days and is a long-acting partner drug that releases the rest of the parasites.
If the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is still present after three days of treatment, resistance to the artemisinin component is suspected.
Currently, 10 mutations in parasite genes, known as PFK13, have been confirmed as partial resistance markers.
Partial artemisinin resistance was first identified in Cambodia in 2006 and is currently documented in many countries in Southeast Asia.
Evidence from the Mekong region – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam – has shown that once artemisinin resistance becomes prevalent, resistance against partner drugs is often followed, resulting in ACT treatment failures.
In 2006, Rwanda introduced the most widely used antimalary as a first-line treatment for the disease.
A study in 2013 and 2014 showed some mutations, but there was no evidence that the combination of drugs was less effective.
Follow-up research in 2018, however, for the first time showed PFK for 13 gene mutations and so-called delayed parasite clearance in patients, although IT effectiveness remains above 90 percent critical.
In the experiment, more than 200 children between the ages of six months and five years were infected with the parasite and received three days of standard treatment, followed by 26 days of observation.
About 15 percent had three-day post-treatment identifiable parasites.
“Recent data suggests that we are on the brink of clinically significant artemisinin resistance in Africa,” commented Philip Rosenthal, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
Decreasing the effectiveness of key legislation could have “serious consequences,” he said, adding that chloroquine resistance led to a significant increase in malaria deaths by the end of the twentieth century.