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Malaria still killing one person every 24 hours

Malaria still killing one person every 24 hours

Despite the number of malaria-related deaths dropping by nearly 60 percent since

1999, malaria remains one of the top three health concerns facing Cambodia,

according to the government.

Along with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis,

malaria is a priority for the government, said Dr Kheng Sim, chief of technical

office at the National Malaria Center of the Ministry of

Health.

"However, Cambodia now is much better compared to the past five

years - about 891 people died in 1999, and [that is] down to 382 in 2004," Sim

said.

The number of Cambodian people dying from malaria is greater than

in neighboring countries, and Sim attributes the high fatality rate to people

buying medicines from the market without first consulting a doctor.

Sim

also cited transportation problems and poverty as obstacles preventing timely

access to health centers.

Working with the Ministry of Health, the World

Bank in 2003 began a five-year health sector support project aimed at combatting

malaria, dengue fever, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. By the time the project is

completed, the World Bank will have contributed about $2.2 million toward

fighting the deadly disease.

Cambodia has three kinds of malaria:

plasmodium falciparum (accounting for 80 percent of cases), plasmodium vivax (18

percent) and the two combined.

Every two years the National Malaria

Center studies the effectiveness of medicines used to treat malaria in Cambodia,

Sim said.

In 2000, the center changed from using artesunate as the sole

treatment for plasmodium falciparum parasites and began mixing it with

metroquine. For plasmodium vivax, a drug called chloroquine is

recommended.

The mixed drug treatment, known locally as Malarine, is

distributed by Population Service International (PSI), also known for their

distribution of Number One and OK condoms.

Malarine is available

throughout Cambodia. A three-day prescription costs 2,500 riel.

The

National Malaria Center also works with government bodies and NGOs to distribute

mosquito nets across Cambodia.

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