Despite substantial progress in recent years, health authorities hope a
new mosquito-net drive will further reduce malaria fatalities.
A vendor at Psar Chah handles a three-person mosquito net made in Cambodia with Vietnamese fabric.
THE government has announced plans to boost its antimalarial projects in 2009, distributing mosquito nets to as many as two million people and reassessing the types of antimalarial drugs it makes available to those most vulnerable to the disease.
Health officials say new funding will allow nets to be distributed in areas most vulnerable to the deadly parasite over the course of 2009.
"We have received a budget for buying mosquito nets from different sources," Siv Sovannaroth, chief of the treated bed net department at the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, said Wednesday.
He said that the distribution will be targeted at areas that are considered to be seriously threatened by the spread of the disease, which, according to the centre's estimates, encompass nearly two million people.
"Our goal for 2009 is to distribute mosquito nets to at least 80 percent of this targeted two million people," he said.
For those who are seriously threatened, we will give them out free of charge.
"We will only focus on areas which are under threat of the spread of malaria, especially areas near forests."
Siv Sovannaroth added that the prices of nets will vary depending on the recipient's circumstances.
"We will sell mosquito nets to people who are threatened by malaria for US$2 to $3 each, but for those who are seriously threatened, we will give them out free of charge," he said.
A decade ago more than 1,000 people died each year in the Kingdom from malaria, but recent efforts to control the disease have seen the number of annual fatalities drop to less than 200.
Despite this progress, recent studies point out that the threat of malaria remains - and officials hope new drugs, in concert with the new mosquito net campaign, will help to keep malaria deaths at bay.
Kheng Sim, deputy director of National Malaria Control at the Ministry of Health, said that there were also a number of antimalarial medicines currently being slated for use within the next five years.
"We will change the medicine needed to treat malaria in four provinces: Battambang, Pailin, Pursat and Kampot," she said.