An inexpensive drug that has lost much of its punch against malaria over the past 20 years is showing signs of regaining its strength in the African nation of Malawi. But researchers warn that the entire continent would have to coordinate its fight against the disease in order for the drug to regain a prominent place among malaria fighters.
Doctors have used the drug, chloroquine, to treat malaria for 60 years, but Plasmodium falciparum, the protozoan that causes severe malaria, has become increasingly resistant. Malawi abandoned the drug in 1993, and doctors there replaced it with an inexpensive combination pill containing sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine. Scientists took note.
The Malawi strategy worked for several years. But eventually, the combination dru