Artemisinin is the main component of the current antimalarial treatments recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Resistance to artemisinin is not new and has been reported in South-East Asia for more than a decade. Scientists have been monitoring the geographical distribution of artemisinin resistance since 2014, but they only recently observed a drug-resistant strain of the malaria parasite in Africa.

The research is available at Nature Medicine. Scientists analysed blood samples from patients in Rwanda and found a mutation of the parasite, resistant to artemisinin, in 7.4% of patients at one of the health centres they monitored. The findings represent a setback to the progress in the fight against malaria so far. In 2018, African countries reported 93% of the malaria cases worldwide (WHO).