Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia had succeeded enormously in ridding itself of tuberculosis by achieving a drop of 60 per cent in mortality cases due to the disease.

In a letter marking World Tuberculosis Day on March 24, Hun Sen said that over the last few years Cambodia had become a model country, demonstrating to the world how to actively and effectively get rid of the disease.

Twenty years ago, he recounted, Cambodia had been among the countries with the highest rate of tuberculosis cases.

The prime minister explained that Cambodia’s achievements in reducing both the mortality and infection rates could be attributed to the government’s efforts to expand tuberculosis testing and treatment services according to the DOTS Strategy – Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course – at hospitals and health centres across the country.

“We instituted a policy of testing and treatment for tuberculosis for citizens that is free of charge. That policy has allowed us to make remarkable progress which is demonstrated by the fact that the rate of illness and mortality in Cambodia from tuberculosis has now dropped more than any other country,” he said.

The letter detailed that the rate of tuberculosis morality had dropped from 42 cases among 100,000 people in the year 2000 to only 17 cases among 100,000 people in 2019 – a drop of 60 per cent.

The rate of new infections had dropped from 579 cases per 100,000 people in 2000 to 287 cases per 100,000 people in 2019 – a drop of 50 per cent.

Despite these improvements, Hun Sen said he was not complacent, acknowledging that Cambodia still had a high rate of tuberculosis illness and mortality compared to some other countries and that there were citizens with the disease who had not received treatment.

“This problem requires of us an accelerated effort to further perform the work necessary to reduce the rate of illness and mortality due to tuberculosis to bring it in line with the sustainable development goals of Cambodia and the world,” he said.

According to estimates provided in the letter, 10 million people globally developed tuberculosis each year and roughly three million of those patients still were not receiving adequate care and treatment services each year.

Tuberculosis claims the lives of 1.4 million people per year across the globe, Hun Sen noted in his letter.

The prime minister hoped that the World Tuberculosis Day campaign this year would remind people all over the world to learn about the illness and inspire them to cooperate to eradicate it from every nation.

He concluded his letter with the hope that anyone who developed the disease would be diagnosed quickly and recover from it and that in the future the world would become free of tuberculosis.