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Malaria Drugs Going Unused

April 25, 2006|From Reuters

GENEVA — Most of the world's millions of malaria sufferers are not getting life-saving drugs nearly five years after the World Health Organization urged their widespread use, health experts said.

Malaria kills more than a million people each year, mainly in Africa, where a child dies from the disease every 30 seconds.

Only four of the 34 countries that have agreed to switch to more effective but costly artemisin-based drug combinations, known as ACTs, are widely distributing the medication. Most people who contract the disease rely on cheaper, less effective drugs, the WHO said.

The mosquito-borne disease has become resistant to most conventional medicines, such as chloroquine.

Fragile health systems, poor medical training and slow drug procurement are partly to blame for slow adoption rates, according to the WHO's Roll Back Malaria partnership.

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