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URC and Myanmar Ministry of Health to Begin Malaria Control Activities
Last month, University Research Co. (URC) and the Myanmar Ministry of Health agreed to work together to battle malaria, paving the way for the USAID Control and Prevention of Malaria Project (CAP-Malaria) to begin in Myanmar. CAP-Malaria strives to prevent and control malaria infections and to contain the spread of multi-drug resistant malaria in the border regions of Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
URC will partner with Save the Children to distribute bed nets (to prevent mosquito bites that transmit malaria), strengthen diagnosis and treatment through community-level malaria volunteers, and build capacity in malaria program management by working with local NGOs and the private sector.
Tackling Drug Resistance
According to the World Health Organization, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam face the greatest threat from resistance to artemisinin, the first-line treatment for malaria. Preventing resistance from spreading to other regions is essential to controlling and eliminating malaria.
Drug-resistance makes malaria cases more difficult to treat and thus more deadly for people who contract it. To respond effectively, the health system must be vigilant in ensuring that treatment is based on a quality diagnosis, the correct antimalarial drugs are prescribed and the full course of treatment is taken, and patient follow-up quickly identifies cases not responding to treatment.
Myanmar in particular is pivotal to the containment and/or elimination of artemisinin-resistant malaria; the parasite that causes malaria is endemic to rural areas in more than 80% of the country's townships, especially in hilly and forested areas. While the number of malaria deaths in Myanmar has fallen in the past decade, the number of reported cases did not change. In 2006, the country saw about 4.2 million malaria cases and 9000 deaths.