Malaria cases in the Kingdom have dropped 54 per cent in the first four months of the year compared with the same period in 2012, according to the Ministry of Health.
Public medical centres recorded 7,890 malaria cases and three deaths from the disease in January through April of this year, compared with 17,043 cases and 24 deaths in those months last year, a report from the National Malaria Centre found.
Steven Bjorge, anti-malaria team leader with the World Health Organization in Cambodia, attributed the improvement to the comprehensive distribution of mosquito nets and improved local treatment services.
“Last year we completed a program of complete and universal coverage of all people at risk from malaria, to provide them with long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets,” he said, adding that the program had provided nets to 98 per cent of the country’s at-risk population.
Additionally, the imp-roved treatment and diagnosis at health centres, and the efforts of village health volunteers had arrested more cases at an early stage, Bjorge said.
Ministry of Health officials and health experts have stressed that drug-resistant malaria still threatens these gains. Last month the WHO launched a $400 million, three-year regional program to combat drug-resistant malaria.
But, Bjorge said, even resistance-plagued provinces like Battambang and Pailin, have seen recent improvements.
“As far as the number of cases, almost every single province shows a spectacular drop in the first months of this year,” he said.
Ironically, he said, most deaths from malaria now occur in provinces less used to seeing the disease, because individuals in these areas will grow more sick as they spend precious time searching for treatment, which may not be available nearby.
The government aims to eliminate deaths from malaria by 2015, a goal that Bjorge said looks “very possible”, with deaths already at “almost zero”.
Last year, the government reported a total of 45 deaths from malaria, fewer than half the 93 deaths seen in 2011 and under a twelfth of the 608 reported in 2000.