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Net gains in malaria battle

Net gains in malaria battle

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Hundreds of insecticide-treated bed nets were distributed to villagers in Siem Reap province’s Svay Leu district yesterday as part of Asia’s largest-ever mosquito net distribution in a bid to protect the population against malaria, a World Health Organisation representative said.

Thik Kaliyann/Phnom Penh Post
Villagers in Siem Reap province’s Svay Leu district receive mosquito nets yesterday.

Steven Bjorge, director of malaria, vector-borne and parasitic diseases at WHO in Cambodia, said that malaria infections in Cambodia had decreased by 38 per cent last year compared with 2010.

“In 2010, there were 103,000 cases of malaria in Cambodia that killed 151 people, and last year, only 85,000 cases killed 93 [people],” he said, adding that WHO was particularly concerned about mobile populations that worked in forests and did not have fixed addresses.

“You have to make a living, but working in the forest puts you at risk of malaria,” Bjorge said.

He told the Post this week that almost all mosquitoes that transmit malaria in Cambodia are forest-dwelling.

The US$14.5 million program, funded by the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, will see a total of 2.7 million nets provided in more than 4,000 villages in the Kingdom.

Distribution began in Kratie province in November last year, amid concerns from the WHO that nationwide flooding could see malaria rates rise.

Char Meng Chour, director of the National Malaria Control Centre at the Ministry of Health, said that a total of 48,000 bed nets would be distributed in Siem Reap province alone.

He added that this year the ministry planned to spend US$100,000 in television and radio advertisements to inform people about malaria.

Health Minister Mam Bunheng, who helped to distribute the nets yesterday, said that the project’s first phase involved providing 780,000 bed nets to households in Kampong Cham, Stung Treng, Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang, and Kep provinces.

Mam Bunheng added that the second phase, which will finish at the end of this month, focuses on providing 1.9 million bed nets to 628,000 families in a further 15 provinces, including Siem Reap.

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