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In the first published study of its kind, a new WWARN paper in the Malaria Journal has created near-real-time maps to support antimalarial drug resistance monitoring, using routine malaria surveillance data and individually patient linked data on molecular markers of antimalarial drug resistance.

Group of researchers from the University of Cape Town Collaborating Centre for Optimising Antimalarial Therapy (CCOAT), South Africa © CCOAT

The independent emergence and spread of clinically significant artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria has recently been confirmed in Rwanda and Uganda with molecular markers associated with artemisinin resistance increasingly being detected across Africa. Surveillance to promptly detect and effectively respond to anti-malarial resistance is generally limited in most malaria-endemic African countries, especially in those with low transmission intensities, whose communities may be at higher risk of antimalarial resistance.

Over a two year period, from March 2018 to February 2020, researchers from the University of Cape Town Collaborating Centre for Optimising Antimalarial Therapy (CCOAT), South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), MORU and WWARN collected spatiotemporal changes in antimalarial drug resistance molecular markers in a pre-elimination area in South Africa.

As part of this study, they mapped the near-real-time linkage of individual patient antimalarial resistance profiles with their case notifications and treatment response reports to guide evidence-based decision-making. If this successful pilot were scaled-up, it could be used as an early warning system to assist in rapidly and efficiently monitoring antimalarial drug resistance and to identify areas requiring further investigation and interventions. Tools developed during this project have been made available among the over 120 tools and resources on the WWARN website.

The full story is available on the WWARN website.

Read the full paper: 'Making data map worthy enhancing routine malaria data to support surveillance and mapping of Plasmodium falciparum antimalarial resistance in a pre-elimination sub-Saharan African setting: a molecular and spatiotemporal epidemiology study' on the Malaria Journal website

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