Tag Archives: malaria

AP looks at drug resistance worldwide

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Associated Press has neatly wrapped up its wide-ranging look at drug resistance and the threat it poses to global health into a flash-based multimedia presentation. The presentation consists of stories, infographics, videos and a photo/audio slideshow.

The two videos explain drug-resistant strains of various infectious diseases. The first looks at the wide availability of powerful antibiotics without guidance or prescription, addresses the problem as it has emerged both in the United States and in locales like Mexico and the Philippines. The second, which is about the use of antibiotics in large-scale livestock operations, relies on just one source, Dr. Craig Rowles of Elite Pork Partnership.

The AP uses infographics to establish the spread and scope of the problem, relying heavily on various world maps. I particularly like the timeline that accompanies the malaria graphic (click “statistics” in the upper right, then “malaria”); it shows the span of time from when each malaria-fighting drug was introduced to the date at which a resistant strain emerged.

Finally, they drive the problem home with three strong anecdotes, including a Southeast Asian boy with drug-resistant malaria, a man fighting the drug-resistant tuberculosis that killed his HIV-positive partner, and a woman who lost an infant daughter to MRSA.

Stories in the series:

The package is accompanied by this video.


UN: Africa plagued by counterfeit malaria/HIV pills

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

A recent assessment by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that weak and or/useless drugs have proliferated across Africa and Asia, with malaria-ridden West Africa being the hardest hit (102-page PDF). Smugglers, organized criminals and shady manufacturers in more developed countries are getting rich at the expense of individuals and countries with little capacity to distinguish between fraudulent pharmaceuticals and the real thing.

From the accompanying press release:

As much as 50-60 per cent of anti-infective medicines tested in Asia and Africa have been found to have insufficient amounts of the active ingredients. Medicines with low levels of active ingredients pose a greater hazard than those with none, because substandard antibiotics and anti-malarial drugs can promote the development of drug resistant strains, or “super bugs” that can spread beyond the region.

The UN report calls for immediate action, including the naming, shaming and banning of companies producing the faux pills and stronger government regulatory efforts.

(Hat tip to VOA News)