AS reports of drug-resistant malaria in western Cambodia gather increasing attention, experts from the National Center for Malaria (NCM) on Monday reported an increase in dengue fever cases throughout the Kingdom in 2009.
In the first 31 weeks of 2009, according to the NCM, 7,227 people in Cambodia were infected with dengue fever, compared with just 4,261 people infected during the same period in 2008. The good news was that only 19 people died from the mosquito-borne malady during the first 31 weeks of this year, as opposed to 40 the previous year.
"Dengue fever in Cambodia has not reached a state of emergency at the moment, though it is drawing a lot of attention," said Ngan Chantham, deputy director of the National Center for Malaria and director of the National Anti-Dengue Programme (NADP).
Large-scale outbreaks of dengue fever typically occur once every two or three years, and specialists from the NADP said that the next big dengue outbreak may happen in 2010. They are cautiously optimistic, however, that they are prepared to deal with it.
Though they will continue to monitor this year's increase in dengue cases, Ngan Chantham said the NADP was pleased to see the death rate drop, attributing this decline to prevention efforts taking place throughout Cambodia. The NADP is in the process of distributing around 90 tonnes of pesticides, used to kill mosquitoes, throughout the Kingdom's 24 provinces, he said.
Education is another significant aspect of prevention efforts, the group says. The NADP has been conducting dengue-education sessions throughout Cambodia since 2002, aiming to inform residents about the precautions necessary to contain the spread of the illness, according to Chea Muntha, head of the dengue education programme at the NADP.
He said that as residents learn more about the importance of precautionary measures such as mosquito nets and household sanitation, mortality rates will continue to decline.