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Anti-malarial drug resistance detected along the Thailand-Myanmar border

Resistance to an anti-malaria drug, artemisinin, is suspected along the Thailand-Myanmar border and in southern Vietnam, but scientists are hoping that it can be contained. Artemisinin resistance emerged on the Thailand-Cambodia border around eight years ago.

Aishwarya Gupta

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Resistance to an anti-malaria drug, artemisinin, is suspected along the Thailand-Myanmar border and in southern Vietnam, but scientists are hoping that it can be contained. Artemisinin resistance emerged on the Thailand-Cambodia border around eight years ago.

Resistance – the ability of the malaria parasite to survive drugs intended to kill it quickly – to chloroquine, an antimalarial previously widely used, forced treatment to change in the early 1970s and also originated in what is known as the Greater Mekong sub-region, which includes Cambodia, the southern provinces of China, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Chloroquine resistance spread to India and then to sub-Saharan Africa, which has the world’s highest burden of the disease.

Decades later, faced with another bout of resistance, officials are cautiously optimistic about preventing the spread of resistance to artemisinin.

“So far, we haven’t found any artemisinin resistance outside the Mekong region… I think we have good chances to keep it in the Mekong region,” Pascal Ringwald, coordinator of the global malaria programme for the World Health Organization (WHO), told a meeting of experts on antimalarial drug resistance in Bangkok.

He noted that the suspected cases of drug resistance along the two Thai borders appeared to be “totally independent, and it raises a concern that it could emerge anywhere.”

Roots of resistance

Resistance to artemisinin is not necessarily fatal for patients because partner drugs can boost its efficacy when it falters, but treatment may take longer and be more expensive.

Studies published earlier in April, covering more than 3,200 patients along the northwestern border of Thailand near Myanmar from 2001 to 2010, indicated a steady increase in drug resistance from 0.6 percent of surveyed patients to 20 percent after a decade.

Scientists are still searching for the exact causes of the resistance, but link it to the widespread use of monotherapies, in which only artemisinin is prescribed.

Despite an international resolution addressing the danger of monotherapies, 25 countries and 28 pharmaceutical companies continue to market them.

Monotherapies are easier and less expensive to manufacture and market than combination therapies, which pair artemisinin with other drugs (artemisinin combination therapies, or ACTs) but they speed the development of resistance to artemisinin in malaria parasites. According to WHO, the parasite is highly unlikely to become drug resistant to ACTs.

Other possible factors in resistance are parasite biology, human behaviour (like not taking the correct dosage or type of antimalaria drugs) and counterfeit drugs.

via IRIN Asia | ASIA: Containing anti-malarial drug resistance in Mekong

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AstraZeneca Approves Thailand’s Vaccine Factory

National News Bureau of Thailand

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BANGKOK (NNT) – AstraZeneca has approved safety standards at Thailand’s vaccine factory and will send the first batch of raw materials for vaccine production in June.

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Skin-lightening products market to reach US$31 billion by 2024

In emerging Asian and African economies, the natural aspiration to enhance one’s circumstances has led to rapid growth in the market for skin-lightening products, which is projected to reach US$31 billion by 2024.

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Recent years have seen evolving awareness of systemic inequities including racism, sexism and pro-Western chauvinism.

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Has Covid-19 prompted the Belt and Road Initiative to go green?

Oxford Business Group

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Has Covid-19 prompted the Belt and Road Initiative to go green?
– Covid-19 led to a slowdown in BRI projects
– Chinese overseas investment dropped off in 2020
– Government remains committed to the wide-ranging infrastructure programme
– Sustainability, health and digital to be the new cornerstones of the initiative 

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Following a year of coronavirus-related disruptions, China appears to be placing a greater focus on sustainable, digital and health-related projects in its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As OBG outlined in April last year, the onset of Covid-19 prompted questions about the future direction of the BRI.

Launched in 2013, the BRI is an ambitious international initiative that aims to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes through large-scale infrastructure development.

By the start of 2020 some 2951 BRI-linked projects – valued at a total of $3.9trn – were planned or under way across the world.

However, as borders closed and lockdowns were imposed, progress stalled on a number of major BRI infrastructure developments.

In June China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that 30-40% of BRI projects had been affected by the virus, while a further 20% had been “seriously affected”. Restrictions on the flow of Chinese workers and construction supplies were cited as factors behind project suspensions or slowdowns in Pakistan, Cambodia and Indonesia, among other countries.

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