Australia indicated that it would continue to assist Cambodia in eradicating malaria by providing assistance to the Global Fund to Fight Disease Control, according to its embassy in Phnom Penh.

The April 25 announcement came as Cambodia marks World Malaria Day 2023, observed this year with the theme “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement”.

“Australia is a valuable partner helping eliminate malaria across the Mekong region. Here at the embassy, we’ve seen firsthand the impressive efforts being undertaken by the Ministry of Health and partners in Ratanakkiri,” it said in a social media post.

The embassy said village malaria workers in remote areas are key to Cambodia’s success as the disease is now almost entirely found among people living and working in the remote forests. These volunteers ensure forest-goers and villagers are regularly fever screened, tested and treated if needed.

It added that malaria cases continued to fall in Cambodia and there have been no related deaths since 2018. The target for eliminating P falciparum malaria, the deadliest strain of the disease, is the end of this year.

“Australia provided $242 million [2021-23] and pledged $266 million [2024-26] to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, a critical partner for malaria elimination in the region,” the embassy said.

The Global Fund has provided Cambodia with $40 million through its regional resistance initiative in 2021-23 and allocated a further $30.6 million to assist Cambodia to eliminate P falciparum malaria in 2024-26, the post said.

In an April 25 letter marking World Malaria Day 2023, Prime Minister Hun Sen introduced measures to eradicate malaria entirely by 2025.

The letter read that Cambodia has succeeded in implementing the National Strategic Plan for Elimination of Malaria, as evidenced by the fact that from 2016 the distribution of anti-malarial drugs was no longer necessary and from 2018 no malaria deaths have occurred.

Malaria cases have gradually been reduced from more than 110,000 cases – and over 500 deaths – in 2011 to just 4,041 cases last year. The 4,041 cases represented a drop of six per cent over the previous year, when 4,318 cases were recorded.