Surge in Malaria cases in PNG, new drug under review

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Papua New Guinea has seen a dramatic surge in cases of Malaria but a new drug still under review could be a potential ally in the fight against the deadly disease.

According to just released data from the PNG Institute of Medical Research, there has been an estimated increase in cases of about eight fold since 2014.

Its latest malaria indicator survey shows numbers rose from 50,300 in 2014 to 432,000 in 2017.

Benjamin Rolfe, who’s the chief executive of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance, said a new drug called tafenoquine could help tackle the mosquito-borne disease.

“If we can get that drug reviewed and into the communities that need it, it would be a huge boost to our ability to tackle this relapsing, recurring malaria,” said Dr Rolfe.

The drug is currently being reviewed by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, and the US Food and Drug Administration, he said.

Benjamin Rolfe is speaking at the first Malaria World Congress this week, which is being held in Melbourne.

WHO figures show that Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands accounted for 92 percent of malaria cases in the Western Pacific Region in 2016.

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