Establishing a National Molecular Surveillance Program for the Detection of Plasmodium falciparum Markers of Resistance to Antimalarial Drugs in Haiti

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020 Dec;103(6):2217-2223. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.20-0833. Epub 2020 Sep 24.


Chloroquine remains the first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria in Haiti, and until recently, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine was the second-line treatment. A few studies have reported the presence of molecular markers for resistance in Plasmodium falciparum parasites, and in vivo therapeutic efficacy studies (TESs) have been limited. Recognizing the history of antimalarial resistance around the globe and the challenges of implementing TESs in low-endemic areas, the Ministry of Health established a surveillance program to detect molecular markers of antimalarial resistance in Haiti. Sentinel sites were purposefully selected in each of Haiti's 10 administrative departments; an 11th site was selected in Grand'Anse, the department with the highest number of reported cases. Factors considered for site selection included the number of malaria cases identified, observed skills of laboratory technicians conducting rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), stock and storage conditions of RDTs, accuracy of data reporting to the national surveillance system, and motivation to participate. Epidemiologic data from 2,437 patients who tested positive for malaria from March 2016 to December 2018 and consented to provide samples for molecular sequencing are presented here. Of these, 936 (38.4%) patients reported self-treatment with any medication since the onset of their illness before diagnosis; overall, 69 (2.8%) patients reported taking an antimalarial. Ten patients (0.4%) reported travel away from their home for at least one night in the month before diagnosis. Establishing a molecular surveillance program for antimalarial drug resistance proved practical and feasible in a resource-limited setting and will provide the evidence needed to make informed treatment policy decisions at the national level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chloroquine / pharmacology*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Resistance / genetics*
  • Female
  • Haiti / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Malaria, Falciparum / drug therapy
  • Malaria, Falciparum / epidemiology*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics*
  • Pyrimethamine / pharmacology*
  • Sentinel Surveillance
  • Sulfadoxine / pharmacology*
  • Young Adult


  • Antimalarials
  • Drug Combinations
  • fanasil, pyrimethamine drug combination
  • Sulfadoxine
  • Chloroquine
  • Pyrimethamine