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Migrants focus of malaria fight

Health officials say they are taking new steps to prevent malaria infections in migrant workers along the Thai-Cambodian border.

Dr Char Meng Chuor, head of the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, said yesterday that Cambodian health officials are working closely with their Thai counterparts to address malaria cases among the migrant population.

“Cambodian and Thai officials have agreed to communicate with one another to eliminate malaria, and to offer treatment and health services free of charge at the border,” he said during a conference held at Phnom Penh’s Raffles Hotel. Malaria cases among migrant workers are particularly pernicious, as they are often left untreated due to workers’ limited access to health care.

The government also hopes to institute similar co-operative efforts along the Vietnamese and Lao borders, Dr Meng Chuor said.

While the number of malaria deaths last year declined dramatically, from 93 in 2011 to 45 in 2012, drug resistant malaria along the Thai-Cambodian border has been a growing public health concern.

Pieter van Maaren, WHO representative for Cambodia, said the government and its partners intend to eliminate all malaria deaths in the country by 2015.

To achieve this goal, the government provides mosquito nets, treatment and medication free of charge, said Minister of Health Dr Mam Bunheng.

“In just the last three years, we provided more than seven million mosquito nets for free to eliminate all malaria deaths by 2015,” he said.

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