WWARN – The world-wide antimalarial resistance network

The world-wide antimalarial resistance network (WWARN) is a great idea. The concept is simple: drug-resistant strains spread and a bigger picture is needed – consolidate data from existing monitoring efforts and standardize protocols to ensure comparability. A series of articles in 2009, published in Malaria Journal, outlined the rationale and a plan for creating a global network. The supplement further details each of the four technical components which comprise drug resistance monitoring: clinical efficacy, in vitro testing, clinical pharmacology, and molecular markers. Results deposited into WWARN, about 28,000 patients thus far, are promised to be open and transparent (hopefully the data will be liberated in the coming months).

A few questions and comments:

The Tropika team reports on the recent WWARN presentation at the MIM conference.

Why is WWARN based at Oxford? A lot of expenses could be saved if the group was hosted, in say New Delhi, where the cost of living is lower and expertise in both malaria and information technology is abundant.

WWARN seems to involve mostly academic researchers. One concern about the viability of any common database is the hesitance of many researchers to share data. Also, much of drug resistance monitoring is conducted directly by national control programs. Will a network of international researchers be able to build credibility with and engage program managers?

Traditionally, the World Health Organization has served to coordinate activities at the supranational level (such as WWARN). WHO is better placed to present itself as a neutral body to promote standardization as well as to request and collate national data. They also have a better relationship with control programs, which would help translate the data into action. Yet, here we seem to have another deliberate effort to bypass them. This is a disturbing trend for the world’s foremost health agency.

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