Pacific Malaria Drug Resistance Monitoring Network Meeting
Dr Shin Young-soo
World Health Organization Regional Director for the Western Pacific
Ladies and Gentlemen
Welcome to this inaugural meeting of the Pacific Malaria Drug Resistance Monitoring Network.
Since the 1960s, this Region has been the epicentre of resistance to antimalarial drugs.
These days, we worry, in particular, about the Cambodia-Thailand border, where resistance to artemisinin has emerged as a serious threat.
In response, WHO, with the governments of Cambodia and Thailand and supported by partners, is leading a major initiative to turn the tide.
This has been made possible by first-class monitoring by the two Member States, who detected artemisinin resistance early on.
The response has been supported by the Mekong Malaria Programme network, which coordinates and provides technical support to the monitoring of malaria drug resistance in the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Until now, such a monitoring network has not existed in the Pacific region.
In this region, resistance of falciparum as well as vivax malaria to chloroquine has been known since the 1980s.
It is also possible that artemisinin resistance is building up in some of the endemic countries.
That is why we need a country network like the one in the Mekong.
The network would assist member countries in planning and implementing high-quality efficacy studies.
A main focus would be on training and capacity building for national staff.
It would also provide assistance on data analysis and interpretation, and assist countries in reviewing and updating their national treatment policies.
Effective national treatment policies are critical both to patient management and to the effective control and elimination of malaria at national and regional levels.
The signals are clear.
Without a concerted effort to monitor malaria drug resistance in the Pacific, the recent encouraging progress in controlling the disease will be at risk.
Establishing a monitoring network requires strong political commitment from Member States, high-quality technical expertise from technical partners, and adequate financial resources from donors.
WHO is strongly committed to this process – hence the organization of this meeting.
An effective monitoring network will impact positively on achieving the malaria-related targets in the Millennium Development Goals.
And it will help achieve the targets we have set ourselves in the Regional Plan of Action for Malaria Control and Elimination in the Western Pacific for 2010 to 2015, which was endorsed by our Regional Committee in 2009.
Thank you for joining this meeting.
Among the tasks over the next two days, we will review malaria drug resistance data and monitoring systems, and develop monitoring plans for the next two years.
We will also be defining collaboration with partners.
I wish all of you a successful and fruitful meeting and a most pleasant stay in Manila.