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WHO Warns Shortfall of Key Malaria Drug Continues

The World Health Organization says a massive shortfall of a key malaria drug will last well into next year, leaving poor countries with about half of what they need to fight the disease.

The WHO says Chinese suppliers have not shipped enough of a key ingredient used to make anti-malaria drugs to companies which manufacture the combination therapy. The ingredient, called artemisinin, is extracted from a plant primarily grown in China.

The WHO says it will set up a system of priorities to deliver the drug to those who need it most. It says the combination therapy is the most effective way to fight the deadliest form of malaria, called falciparum.

The mosquito-born disease has become resistant to treatment with older, more traditional medication. The WHO estimates that malaria kills more than one million people worldwide, with more than 90 percent of fatalities occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.