Aids organization says governments in eastern Africa need to begin using more effective malaria treatments

Nairobi, Kenya (AP) - Eastern African governments need to begin using a more effective - and more expensive - set of drugs to treat malaria, a change that should be financed by wealthy donor nations, an international aid organization said Wednesday. A report released Wednesday by the French-based Medecins sans Frontieres said that in recent years malaria has become increasingly resistant to the most commonly employed treatments - chloroquine and Fansidar. However, drug combinations including Chinese drugs know as "artemisinin" derivatives remain effective. But, combinations using the Chinese drugs - which are also produced in other countries - currently cost dlrs 1.30 per treatment, while the less effective drug combinations cost only dlrs .30. "Very few countries are implementing new treatments because it is too expensive," Dr. Jean-Marie Kindermanns, the report's author, told a news conference. The report covers Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. It estimated the five countries would need dlrs 19 million a year to provide the more effective malaria treatment. "For (donor countries) this is really not out of reach," Kindermanns said. Malaria is caused by a virus transported by mosquitoes. Mosquito nets treated with insecticide are the most efficient means of preventing malaria, but most people in Africa cannot afford the nets. Between 1.5 million and 2 million people in Africa, mostly children, die every year of malaria, which kills more people on the continent than AIDS-related illnesses.