Improved education and treatment in remote areas have contributed to
decrease in deaths, including a small drop last year, govt figures show.
SOURCE: NATIONAL CENTRE FOR PARASITOLOGY, ENTOMOLOGY AND MALARIA CONTROL
THE 2008 annual report for the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control was released Tuesday showing a more than 50 percent drop in total malaria cases reported by public facilities between 2003 and last year, with officials crediting the success to village-based treatment and education programmes.
According to the report, malaria cases reported at public hospitals fell from 132,571 five years ago to just 58,887 in 2008.
Deaths last year, reported at 209, also dropped slightly from 2007, when 241 fatalities were recorded at hospitals.
"I am really interested in this achievement, which is reported by public hospitals, showing that infection and death rates have decreased by 50 percent in five years, which is a really big accomplishment in fighting malaria," said Michael O'Leary, the World Health Organisation's country representative.
The centre has touted its village-based programmes at a press conference for the release, saying that these have been expanding in 2009
with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
"We have encouraged voluntary malaria treatments at the village level.
"In 2008, 132,620 malaria patients were treated by village-based malaria volunteers, which has remarkably reduced the malaria death rate," said Dr Duong Socheat, the director of the centre.
The centre's 2008 statistics showed that villages with malaria workers, which tend to be in remote areas with endemic malaria, had seen a sharp decline in the number of confirmed malaria deaths.
In 2004, there were 33 confirmed deaths in villages with malaria workers, but by last year, there were only five, despite the fact that the number of cases tested more than tripled.
The report cited statistics showing improvements in malaria education. The number of people who knew about malaria prevention and transmission jumped from 42 percent in 2004 to 72 percent in 2007.
But, the report said, "behaviour does not seem to be keeping pace with knowledge".
The number of people seeking proper treatment within 48 hours of showing symptoms increased only slightly.