Spreading from one Cambodian town, the rise of drug-resistant malaria strains has the world on high alert.
For decades, the farms and villages around the town of Pailin have been the breeding grounds for drug-resistant malaria, first beating off chloroquine, then pyrimethamines and now artemisinins. The spread has killed millions and the latest resistance is already spreading across Asia.
The worrying spread has heads of state and scientists on high alert, particularly in Africa, where 90% of all malaria deaths occur. But why Pailin? Scientists remain perplexed. It could be the region’s ecology; or local malaria parasites may have unique properties. But for now, there is no straight answer.