Bangkok – Scientists said in a study published on Friday in Bangkok that a drug-resistant strain of malaria has spread through South-East Asia and was on the verge of reaching India.
The research carried out by the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Bangkok, found that the most deadly form of malaria-causing parasite are present in 39 per cent of malaria cases within the region.
The study revealed that a strain of malaria, resistant to the most effective anti-malarial drug, artemisinin, had reached the border region of Myanmar and India.
Scientists warn that consequences could be dire if the drug-resistant malaria reached the Indian sub- continent.
Prof. Mike Turner, Head of Infection & Immunobiology at the Wellcome Trust, said drug resistant malaria parasites in the 1960s originated in South-East Asia.
He said that from there it spread through Myanmar to India then to the rest of the world where millions of people were killed.
Turner said the new research showed that history was repeating itself.
The study also warns that the rate at which malaria was spreading was alarming and that resistant parasites had been found in Homalin, Myanmar, only 25km from the Indian border.
Dr Charles Woodrow of Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, said Myanmar was considered the frontline in the battle against artemisinin-resistance.
According to him, it forms a gateway for resistance to spread to the rest of the world.
Woodrow said it was estimated that over 600,000 people die from malaria every year, most of them children under the age of five and living in Africa. (dpa/NAN)