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Minister tackles malaria amid breakout in seven provinces

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A young boy receives a malaria vaccine in Kakab commune’s Chamkar Ovloek village in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district. Heng Chivoan

Minister tackles malaria amid breakout in seven provinces

Amid a malaria outbreak in seven Cambodian provinces, Health Minister Mam Bun Heng urged provincial authorities to implement the National Strategic Plan for Elimination of Malaria (2011-2025) efficiently to combat the vector-borne disease.

The National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control said the provinces of Pursat, Kampong Speu, Stung Treng, Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear, Kratie and Ratanakkiri have seen a high number of malaria cases.

The centre urged the provinces to follow the minister’s instruction to conduct blood tests and provide treatment.

The malaria outbreak has raised concerns that the government’s plans to eliminate Plasmodium falciparum malaria by 2020 and all types of malaria by 2025 would not be achieved.

Speaking at a consultation meeting on the development of a special provincial teamwork and strategic plan to eradicate malaria on Tuesday, Bun Heng said malaria negatively affects health, personal finances, and productivity, which disrupts national development.

He said provincial health departments, local authorities and relevant organisations must collaborate to execute the national strategic plan to eradicate all types of malaria.

Kratie provincial Department of Health Director Chhneang Sovutha said the province is a popular destination for migrants in Cambodia.

He said migrants from other provinces lacked knowledge on malaria prevention. Moreover, since they were living in the forest area, this makes it difficult for relevant authorities to reach and educate them.

“Therefore, malaria cases can hardly be decreased. Also, as they are the newcomers, they do not know where the health services are and where they can find volunteer doctors to help them.

“Talking about the national strategic plan, we have put great effort with NGOs to find those people to give them mosquito nets, educate them on malaria prevention measures, and to advise malaria patients to go to the hospital,” said Sovutha.

He said Kratie province had 2,992 malaria patients in 2018, while in the third quarter of this year, it recorded 1,176 patients.

According to the Ministry of Health’s statistics, the number of malaria patients fell to 23,627 in 2016 from 51,262 patients the previous year.

However, the number of malaria patients were on an increasing trend in 2017 and last year, recording 45,991 cases and 65,114 cases respectively. Yet no patient had died from the disease.

Looking further back, 93 people died of malaria in 2011, but after efforts to control the disease was carried out, only one fatality in 2016.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Department of Health director Lim Samean said in the first three quarters of this year, the province had 117 malaria cases. This was a drop from 402 cases in the same period last year.

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