Multi-resistant malaria becoming common on Cambodian border

Malaria resistant to almost every anti-malarial drug has taken hold in the border region between Cambodia and Thailand.

History shows that once resistance emerges, it can swiftly travel around the world. This is a major threat as malaria kills more than one million people every year, with the majority of them in Africa, according to MSNBC.

The area of Pailin in Cambodia has become the epicenter in the fight against malaria. It is there that the mosquito-borne illness has been developing a resistance to the drug Artemisinin, the world’s main anti-malarial drug.

"We've got to contain the parasite before it spreads throughout the region," Dr. Najibullah Habib said, according to MSNBC. "If that happens it’s going to be a public health emergency." Habib is spearheading the containment project for the World Health Organization.

Notice was first given about the high rate of resistance to Artemisinin by U.S. Army researchers who showed that the disease took much longer to clear in some areas.

"It was clear that the parasites are becoming less susceptible to the drug," David Saunders, of the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences said, according to MSNBC.

"We've really come in at a crucial time," Saunders' colleague Stuart Tyner said, according to MSNBC. "We're fortunate to have identified this now at a time when it’s just becoming an issue."

Tyner said that there is still time to fight back against drug-resistant malaria. He is working with Cambodian officials to see how fast and to where it is spreading, and to test different drug combinations.