As new waves of the disease threaten the globe, worried scientists want to conduct a mass inoculation in a Cambodian region where new vaccines always seem to stop being effective

Pailin is a small settlement nestling in tropical rainforest near Cambodia’s border with Thailand. It is an unassuming town that lies at the centre of one of the country’s main logging areas. Pailin harbours secrets, however. It was here, in the late 1970s, that the Khmer Rouge set up one of its main strongholds and ruled Cambodia with a ferocity that caused at least 2 million deaths. It is a grim legacy, by any standards.

But Pailin has another unwanted claim to fame, one that is also associated with widespread death. The town, it transpires, lies at the heart of a region that has seen successive waves of resistance to malaria drugs arise in local people and then spread across the globe. The resulting death tolls can be measured in millions of lives, say scientists.

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