The Challenge of Drug Resistance February meeting

In • March 5th, 2014

25th February – A joint meeting with the HIV/AIDS & TB Groups

The Challenge of Drug Resistance
The meeting focussed on the problem of resistance in infectious diseases and strategies for prevention.


Speaking on Malaria Resistance, Professor Hilary Ranson, Head of the Department of Vector Biology, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine works on the control of mosquito borne infections across the globe.  Many of the mosquito species that transmit diseases such as malaria and dengue are developing resistance to the insecticides used by control programmes.  Her work focuses on assessing the impact of this resistance and developing and evaluating strategies to prevent resistance from hampering disease control.

Professor Ranson said that the high coverage of insecticide based tools targeting mosquito vectors remained very effective in reducing malaria transmission.  There had been a 26% reduction in global malaria deaths in the last ten years. Over the last ten years there had been a dramatic scaling up in the use of insecticide based interventions for malaria control.  There was now 60% coverage globally.  Insecticide based interventions were used on long lasting insecticides treated nets (LLINS) and for indoor spraying.  They were playing an even greater role in malaria control.

However, she said that insecticide resistance was an ongoing challenge: there was a growing threat of resistance to malaria insecticides.

She said that it was vital to improve the tools and data to assess the impact resistance in different geographical areas. There was clear evidence that the tools were no longer as effective as they had been.  Insecticides were no longer killing the mosquitoes using standard assays.

The difficulty was the very limited insecticide options for malaria control.  Pyrethroid resistance in malaria vectors was growing in an increasing number of areas in Africa.  Professor Ranson asked what could be done to prevent history repeating itself?

The Global Malaria Insecticide Resistance Plan needed implementing.

She said it called for:

  • The development of new insecticides for public health
  • It was important to integrate resistance management strategies for all the tools
  • There should be a ban on monotherapies for new insecticides.

In conclusion, she said that nearly 3 million peoples lives had been saved since 2000 due to the scale up of insecticides based malaria tools. This success had contributed to renewed optimism for malaria elimination.  Current tools were threatened by resistance but new insecticides and non-insecticidal methods were in the pipeline.  Nearly 3 million lives have been saved in since 2000 due to the scale up of insecticide based malaria control tools this success has contributed to renewed optimism that malaria can be eliminated.

Current tools were threatened by resistance but new insecticides (and non-insecticidal methods) were in the pipeline
We must learn from the past and take radical action to protect new malaria control tools.