Drug resistance is one of the principal obstacles blocking worldwide malaria control. In Colombia, malaria remains a major public health concern and drug-resistant parasites have been reported. In vitro drug susceptibility assays are a useful tool for monitoring the emergence and spread of drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum
. The present study was conducted as a proof of concept for an antimalarial drug resistance surveillance network based on in vitro susceptibility testing in Colombia. Sentinel laboratories were set up in three malaria endemic areas. The enzyme linked immunosorbent assay-histidine rich protein 2 and schizont maturation methods were used to assess the susceptibility of fresh P. falciparum
isolates to six antimalarial drugs. This study demonstrates that an antimalarial drug resistance surveillance network based on in vitro methods is feasible in the field with the participation of a research institute, local health institutions and universities. It could also serve as a model for a regional surveillance network. Preliminary susceptibility results showed widespread chloroquine resistance, which was consistent with previous reports for the Pacific region. However, high susceptibility to dihydroartemisinin and lumefantrine compounds, currently used for treatment in the country, was also reported. The implementation process identified critical points and opportunities for the improvement of network sustainability strategies.