WWARN launches new tools on World Health Day

7 April 2011

WWARN has unveiled a suite of online tools that will give an up-to-date and global picture of the emergence and spread of antimalarial resistance.  WWARN is appealing to malaria researchers around the world to collaborate on sharing data and to use these tools to monitor and control the disease.

By choosing World Health Day for its launch, WWARN supports this year’s call for public attention on the lethal consequences of antimicrobial resistance, focusing on the steps being taken by the malaria community to counter the challenge of antimalarial drug resistance.

WWARN is a global network of scientists with collaborators and regional centres in malaria endemic countries, the Americas and Europe. Dr Philippe Guérin, Executive Director said “The data submission portal, accessible from our website (www.wwarn.org), reformats data from almost any source into a common format. This allows us to integrate information from many different sources, to monitor changes in drug efficacy and to identify early signs of emerging drug resistance. The tool gives the malaria community a chance to respond rapidly and contain the emerging threat of antimalarial resistance.”

“Collecting and collating data from different clinical studies, global locations and researchers is a major challenge,” added Dr Guerin. “But these online tools now make it possible for researchers working anywhere in the world to make an immediate contribution to this global challenge.”

Also new on the WWARN website, the Explorer (http://www.wwarn.org/tracking-resistance/wwarn-explorer) is an interactive tool allowing anyone anywhere to map and visualize results from antimalarial efficacy studies and supportive analyses submitted to WWARN. Dr Ambrose Talisuna, Director of the WWARN East African Regional Centre comments, “Knowing where we have gaps in our knowledge is as important as collecting existing data. We need to work with local and regional networks, agencies and funders to either find missing data, or encourage countries and scientists to carry out the necessary studies. WWARN can help by providing training to ensure we collect the best possible quality data.”

Professor Nick White, Chairman of WWARN stressed the urgency of the situation, “Antimalarial resistance is a real threat to malaria control. Emerging artemisinin resistance on the Thailand-Cambodia border underlines the urgency to preserve artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) the first-line treatment for falciparum malaria throughout the world.  The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on countries to be increasingly vigilant in monitoring antimalarial drug efficacy to prevent artemisinin resistance spreading and the increase in malaria deaths that would inevitably follow.”

Antimalarial treatment may fail for many reasons: the dose could be insufficient, the drug may be counterfeit or the parasite might have evolved resistance. WWARN’s online tools inform on all these relevant aspects of antimalarial treatment and its potential failure.

Working with the WHO, WWARN welcomes the cooperation of the world’s researchers, public health laboratories and institutions to contribute all the available data. Oumar Gaye, Professor of Parasitology at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal and WWARN Board Member, concluded, “Only by global cooperation will we be able to ensure that anyone affected by malaria receives effective, safe treatment. We encourage everyone to visit our website, join the WWARN community, and actively contribute to the fight to defeat malaria.”