The world of Artemisia in 44 questions


W. Heemskerk, H.D.F.H. Schallig, Bart de Steenhuijsen Piters

Around 1.5 million people die every year of malaria; every 30 seconds a child dies due to this preventable and curable disease. Over 90 % of malaria cases and the great majority of malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the affordable antimalaria drugs have become ineffective because Plasmodium falciparum – the malarial parasite responsible for the most severe malaria cases and deaths – has developed resistance to them.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies, artemisininbased combination therapy (ACT), derived from the plant Artemisia annua, is the most promising anti-malaria drug for tackling this problem. It has been estimated that there are roughly 500 million episodes of clinical malaria per year, the majority of which should ideally be treated with ACT.