Anti-malaria effort three years ahead of planned goals

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Malaria is an infectious disease spread by the bite of <em>Anopheles</em> mosquitoes. SUPPLIED

In the first eight months of this year, the reported number of malaria cases in Cambodia was 2,428, a 62 per cent decrease compared to the same period last year when 6,313 cases were recorded, according to the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM).

CNM director Huy Rekol told The Post on September 9 that the reason for the significant decrease was due to improved public awareness about how malaria spreads and how it can be prevented through increased attention paid to the issue by partner organisations.

"The fight against malaria is the same as any other infectious disease. Malaria is an infectious disease spread by the bite of Anopheles mosquitoes.

"Therefore, the way to control the spread of the disease is by controlling the number of these mosquitoes, which can be accomplished when the community and all of the stakeholders involved work together,” he said.

Rekol also noted that there have been no deaths from malaria in Cambodia since 2018, demonstrating the success of the government’s National Strategic Plan for Elimination of Malaria in Cambodia (2011-2025).

"Prime Minister Hun Sen implemented a national strategic plan for malaria through 2025. This strategy is working and both implementers and our partners have followed it to achieve these positive results as planned,” he said, adding that the strategy was actually three years ahead of the goals outlined in its timeline.

Rekol advised that people living in mountainous regions or travelling in the mountains be very careful and stay alert to the symptoms of malaria in order to seek help right away if they suspect they have it.

Rekol also emphasised the importance of using mosquito nets in areas at risk of malaria transmission and those who have been in those areas should visit a malaria examination centre for free testing if they encountered a lot of mosquitos.

“And if anyone is positive for malaria, we can provide a close to 100 per cent effective treatment. All malaria-related treatment, medicines and supplies are free of charge," he said.

Early this month, the US government aid agency USAID also announced a new project called "Phase 2 Malaria Eradication in Cambodia".

The project will assist Cambodia in the fight against malaria and help save lives, with the total elimination of malaria transmission its overall goal.

Chhean Victor, head of the malaria programme in northern Kampong Cham province’s Chamkar Leu district, said the number of malaria cases in his area had been decreasing over time and now he was happy to see that there were zero cases so far for 2021.

"Since 1987, there have been quite a few malaria cases in my area, but then they gradually decreased. We have been instructing people who go into the forests to use mosquito nets and health officials have also distributed mosquito nets for free to people. I think this awareness and better use of nets has helped a great deal,” he said.