Twenty-four people have been killed by dengue fever in the first six months of this year – a fivefold increase on the same period last year when seven people died from the virus.
There have been more than 10,000 reported cases of dengue so far this year, but officials said the Ministry of Health is working hard to prevent the situation from deteriorating.
A press conference was held by government spokesman Phay Siphan at the National Paediatric Hospital on Thursday on the current situation, responsive measures that have been taken and the likely challenges that will be faced. It was also an opportunity for participants to share their experiences.
Guest speakers included representatives from the Ministry of Health and the National Paediatric Hospital, nearly 100 doctors and Hun Mana, a daughter of the prime minister involved in Cambodian health issues.
Huy Rekol, the director of the Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, said that as of this weekend, there had been 13,000 cases of dengue this year, with 24 people having died in hospital after being brought in late and in serious conditions.
“This is a fivefold increase in dengue cases compared to last year. Only seven people died from the virus in 2018. This does not mean that dengue fever has broken out throughout Cambodia, it is only in the driest and wettest areas."
“None of the patients who received treatment within 24 hours after suffering from a high temperature died. The 24 people who did were all late in going to the hospital and were already in serious conditions, meaning that it was too late to save them,” Rekol said.
The escalation in dengue fever this year was due to a five- or six-year climatic cycle wherein a 1mm rise in rainfall meant an 11 per cent increase in the spread of the virus, he said.
Nhep Angkeabos, the director of the National Paediatric Hospital, said his institution had admitted an average of more than 300 dengue fever patients a day. As of Wednesday, the National Paediatric Hospital received 3,000 dengue fever patients, four of whom succumbed to the disease.
In response to this year’s dengue outbreak, the Ministry of Health had introduced preventative measures including educating people on prevention, the spraying of insecticides and the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, as well as training on dengue fever treatment and diagnosis, he said.
“The Ministry of Health has also encouraged doctors to make patients with dengue a top priority,” he said.
Ung Sophal, the director of the Dengue Fever Clinic Control Sub-committee, said while this year had seen the worst dengue fever outbreak in six or seven years, the Ministry of Health was prepared in terms of providing treatment and prevention measures.
“We have prepared nearly 70,000 batches of serum for treatment, 172 tonnes of insecticide and 7,000l of mosquito spray, which is for spraying in the most dengue-hit areas as a last resort,” he said.
The Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap reported this month that in the first five months of the year, more than 370,000 children had received checkups and consultation, 70,000 of whom had dengue fever and received treatment.