Target: Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, World Health Organization Regional Director for South-East Asia
Goal: Call on the organization to continue a full assault against the spread of drug-resistant malaria
Few threats to human health have claimed more lives than the humble mosquito and the diseases it harbors. Malaria infections killed some 584,000 people in 2013 alone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One strain is becoming increasingly resistant to a vital drug used in treatment, posing a threat to the people of South-East Asia and the world.
Artemisinins are typically used to treat malaria in combination with other drugs. The resistant strain has already spread to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, reports Lancet Infectious Diseases, and has even been found within 15 miles of the border with India. Its continued spread threatens billions of lives as experts say fewer and fewer options remain to treat victims of the deadly disease.
The WHO has already done a great deal to address the scourge of malaria, including bringing together international experts to discuss the crisis. But there is much to be done if this dangerous strain is to be contained, and eliminated. Concern exists that if reaches India it could more easily spread to regions across the globe.
Malaria is a problem in many developing nations where people struggle to finance prevention and treatment.Urge the WHO to continue its fight to stop the spread of drug-resistant Malaria.
Dear Dr. Singh,
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) faces a growing, deadly threat: a strain of Malaria with resistance to the artemisinin drugs that form an important part of treatment. Your organization recently convened representatives from health ministries, regulatory agencies, non-profits and research teams in an emergency meeting to address the problem. While I am sincerely grateful for the WHO’s commitment, I realize the campaign to contain this dangerous disease is still far from over.
A report from the emergency meeting discussed the tremendous cost involved. “One of the greatest challenges for malaria elimination efforts in the GMS will be finding the necessary financial resources to cover all at-risk groups with malaria prevention and treatment and sustaining coverage in the long-run.” While cost cannot be ignored, neither can the very real threat to populations all over the world as the strain continues to spread.
Malaria claims roughly half a million lives each and every year and people living in poverty, unable to afford prevention or treatment, are at greatest risk. Please, continue to rally international support to eliminate malaria once and for all, with a focus on containing this artemisinin-resistant strain.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Alan R. Walker via Wikimedia Commons