Title

Barriers to Access to Effective Malaria Treatment in the Field

Publication Date

2004

Abstract

Plasmodium Falciparum malaria poses an increasing global health risk. It kills millions of people every year in endemic countries, and sickens many millions more. It, along with tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, has been identified as one of the top three global health risks by the WHO. Falciparum malaria is increasingly resistant to existing treatments such as chloroquine or sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, which are widely available and at a price that many countries can afford. Newer treatments, such as artimisinin derivatives used in combination with older drugs, which are effective in treating patients with malaria, are often far too expensive to be used. Research into new malaria treatments is almost nonexistent, meaning that there are no future treatment options.

A comparison of endemic country governmental treatment protocols and the surveyed resistance rates shows that few countries are changing their national protocols or making effective therapies available to meet the new threat. A survey of field workers from the international medical humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres shows that many of the difficulties they encountered in their work in the field were consistant through many different countries and over a 5 year time span. The most commonly cited barriers were: the high cost of the effective treatment; the host governments’ resistance to allowing implementation of newer treatments; and difficulties in ensuring that patients completed the full treatment course. Also cited was the problem of ensuring a quick and accurate diagnosis.

Disciplines

International Public Health

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