11 Jun 2004

PNG health department urged to get malarial drug update

10:51 am on 11 June 2004

A medical authority in Papua New Guinea says the health ministry has two years to come up with a new treatment for malaria.

The Director of the PNG Institute of Medical Research, Professor John Reeder, says the current combination of the drugs, chloroquine and fansidar, is losing its effectiveness.

Professor Reeder says the parasites are mutating against the drug, and the population will become resistant in a couple of years.

He says he's concerned enough, to start lobbying the health department to find a new therapy.

"I think its like anything like this - at first you just don't want to hear that. You know, because they've worked hard to put in a sensible strategy and fansidar is failing much faster than what people would have predicted. The probable reason for this is that part of the fansidar drug is pyrimethamine which was very widely used drug for mass eradications in PNG in the sixties."