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Malaria deaths dip in first half

Children suffering from malaria are treated at Kantha Bopha Children’s hospital in Phnom Penh
Children suffering from malaria are treated at Kantha Bopha Children’s hospital in Phnom Penh. HONG MENEA

Malaria deaths dip in first half

A new report from Cam­bodia’s centre for malaria control shows fatalities from the disease have dropped 85 per cent in the first half of 2013 compared with the same period last year.

The total number of malaria cases reduced by 52 per cent during that period, according to a report released yesterday by Dr Char Meng Chuor, director of the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control.

Four people out of 18,700 documented cases died of malaria between January and June, Dr Meng Chuor’s figures show.

The dramatic reduction from 28 deaths out of nearly 40,000 reported cases in 2012’s first six months is largely the result of a large-scale mosquito-net distribution program, Steven Bjorge of the World Health Organization said.

“You can see a definite correlation between achieving [heavy reduction] and the high amount of bed net coverage that took place between November of 2011 and March of 2012,” Bjorge, who heads the WHO’s malaria and parasitic diseases team in Cambodia, said.

That effort originated from a 2009 bed net distribution campaign that focused on western provinces such as Battambang and Koh Kong, where villagers showed a higher rate of drug-resistant malaria than in other parts of the country, he said.

Noting an impressive reduction among villagers in that region, the Global Fund for Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria contributed $20 million to expand the program to about 1,600 of the Kingdom’s most malaria-affected villages, Bjorge added.

During that period between late 2011 and early 2012, malaria deaths dropped by about half – from 94 to 47 – the most significant reduction in recent decades up to that point, according to the report.

A government-implemented, NGO-funded program that places malaria workers in villages has also contributed to the curbing of the disease, Bjorge said. The combination of programs could virtually eradicate malaria deaths in five years, he added.

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