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Dengue deaths still rising

The number of dengue fever deaths for the first half of the year has soared to 60, according to new statistics garnered by the National Centre for Parisitology, Entomology and Malaria Control.

The number of cases for the first half of the year compared to those in 2011 has almost quadrupled, with 15,600 cases reported compared to 4,604 for the same time last year.

About 20,000 cases were reported in the first half of 2007, which saw a severe epidemic sweep the country, killing 407 throughout the year and causing 39,861 to fall ill.

The spike in cases, which experts say was triggered by a premature rainy season, has prompted the Ministry of Health to dispense 290 tonnes of the larvicide Abate – used to kill larvae in water pots – around the country.

Last Thursday, 20 tonnes of Abate was distributed to 38 communes within five of Phnom Penh’s nine districts.

National Dengue Control Program director, Ngan Chan­tha, said it was an effective measure.

“It can last up to three months, but we only cover the high risk areas,” he said.

World Health Organization epidemiologist Steve Bjorge maintained the boost in larvicide distribution was not a case of too little, too late, as it was impossible to predict climate and rainfall early enough to import more of the chemical.

He said the problem rested in the distribution of larvicide once it reached a province, as it was then allocated by provincial health departments.

“The provincial health de­partments don’t operate in a scientific environment, they operate in a political environment – they will be trying to please political powers that be – so they’re distributing in broader areas but in less than effective concentrations.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Claire Knox at newsroom@phnompenhpost.com

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