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Currently 130,000 people live in refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border. The work carried out by SMRU over the past 20 years has improved therapeutics for malaria and relegated malaria from being the single most important medical problem in these camps, to a rare cause of illness and death amongst refugees.

Filmed in April 2013 at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) in Mae Sot, and at the Wang Pa Free Clinic and the Mae La refugee camp, this video highlights SMRU's work among Karen and Myanmar refugees, living along the Thailand-Myanmar border.

Dr Francois Nosten, SMRU founder and head, discusses SMRU's work, its objectives and challenges. Dr Nosten warns about the growing public health threat posed by parasite resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT); the cornerstone of malaria treatment in all malaria-endemic countries.


The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) was established in 1986 as a centre for epidemiological study into the treatment and prevention of resistant malaria among refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. At the time, malaria was the most serious health problem facing the displaced population living along the border and the primary cause of death, representing over 45% of out-patient consultations.

Malaria at the Thai-Burma border

Researchers at SMRU continue to monitor, treat and control malaria, both within the camps and amongst the communities of Burmese migrant workers, who live outside the camps.