Shadowing a Doctor

March 26, 2014

Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) is a non-profit organisation that was established in Switzerland in 1999. The aim of MMV is to reduce the burden of malaria in endemic countries with new, affordable and effective anti-malaria medicines. The organisation’s mission is to develop and deliver these powerful drugs to high risk nations that often have under-served citizens in need of help to eradicate malaria.

A Gap Medics student holds a newborn for the first time Curing the world’s population of malaria

One of the main goals of MMV is to cure those who are already stricken with malaria. Although there are drugs that can cure the most prevalent of malaria strains, getting the medicines to locations where the disease is prevalent can often pose the greatest challenge. Moreover, treatment usually takes 3 to 14 days and the relapse rate is very high.  The Medicines for Malaria Venture is doing ongoing research to create or find a one-dose drug that can effectively cure patients and prevent relapses.

It is possible for the disease to recur after several months of hibernating in the patient’s body. The virus can stay dormant in a patient’s liver and cause a recurrence of malaria without a new incident of mosquito bite. This high recurrence rate makes it important for healthcare workers to monitor patients long after the initial drugs are administered.

Resistance to drugs

In 2009, it was discovered that the virus had become resistant to artemisinin (ACT), the main drug that was used to cure malaria. The resistant strain of the disease was first found in the Thailand and Cambodia border. It has steadily spread towards Southeast Asia, extending the area where it becomes more difficult to treat malaria patients. In earlier years, the virus would die and disappear from a patient’s body within 30 hours. These days, with more resistant strains coming into being, it can often take 72 hours or more for the medicines to work. This, according to scientists is clear evidence that the malaria virus was becoming harder to kill and becoming more dangerous to populations around the world.

MMV Global Partners

The MMV works with partners all over the world to find an effective drug and method to eradicate malaria from the face of the earth. The organisation has partners and operates in 50 countries worldwide. These partners consist of groups and individuals from the public and private sector, NGOs and clinics stationed all over the world.

Organisations like the UK Department of International Development, the Australian Government – Department of Foreign Affairs and Aid, and 300 more partner organisations from different countries all work together to gather resources and knowledge in the hope of finding a vaccine and cure that works. A good example is the MMV’s Open Source Drug Discovery program in Australia where researchers and people in the medicine and healthcare industry may contribute their knowledge to the program.

How you can get involved

Individuals can also get involved in helping the MMV to find funds and a cure to malaria through networking and hosting events that are aimed at promoting awareness. Volunteers and people seeking permanent positions in partner organisations can search for the ideal venue and MMV partner to work with through the main site of MMV.