The people of Kampong Speu province are at increased risk of contracting malaria, say provincial authorities. They are not following the recommendations of medical professionals, using their prescribed medication irregularly or stopping taking it entirely.

Long Bonareth, deputy governor of Kampong Speu province, said that thanks to the cooperation of health officials, local authorities and volunteers, malaria had almost been eradicated from the province in the past, but these efforts were now likely to be undone by the irresponsible actions of some members of the community.

“We are unlikely to completely eradicate malaria cases because some people have given up treatment. Some of the people who have had the disease relapse, because they do not follow the instructions of their doctor,” she added.

“Many people live and work in the forest, or collect non-timber forest products there, and the life cycle of mosquitoes revives whenever the rainy season arrives,” she continued.

She said many resources had been used to try to solve the problem of malaria, and it would be a shame to see the good work done by health officials, volunteers and local authorities be undone.

Hok Kry, director of the Kampong Speu provincial Health Department, said malaria was still a concern for the province as was unlikely to be eradicated. He agreed with Bonareth’s assessment, saying that many of the people who entered the forest were failing to follow doctor’s instructions.

“Many of the residents of the most remote villages still have the habit of going into the forest to find non-timber forest products to sell. They stay in the forest for a long time, but do not follow the instructions of the village’s volunteer doctors. They often sleep without a mosquito net or fail to take the anti-malarial medicine they are given. This makes them more vulnerable to malaria,” he added.

He said that in some cases, they did not seek treatment after becoming infected, which could lead to the disease recurring and even endanger their lives.

“In addition, there is a new strain appearing near the border with Pursat province. Known as malariae, it is not possible to diagnose with rapid tests. This makes preventative measures even more important, as we cannot begin to treat it until we can diagnose it,” he added.

According to the Kampong Speu Health Department, in 2022, there were 808 cases of malaria in the province. Four were reported as malariae, the first instances of the strain in the province. The six health centres with the highest number of malaria cases were Oral, Trapeang Cho, Chambok, Tang Samrong, Omlaing and Monorongroeung.