T HE Ministry of Health is alarmed at a large increase in tuberculosis, which has
claimed about 13,000 fatalities this year.
So far this year 40,000 people
with tuberculosis have been reported, compared to 15,000 in all of last year,
according to Dr Kong Kim San, director of the National Anti-Tuberculosis
He said he many of those who died of tuberculosis also had the
HIV virus or Aids, which made their immune systems less resistant to such
The Ministry of Health has declared tuberculosis its number one
At a anti-tuberculosis training seminar for health officials
from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in Phnom Penh last month, Secretary of State for
Health Dr Narong Rith Dy said three million people a year died of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis was one of the leading causes of death among both
adults and children.
World Health Organization representative Dr G.
Petersen urged more recognition of the devastation caused by the
"Every second, someone is infected with TB in the world. TB has
not in the past been a primary concern of women's health groups, although it
kills as many women as all maternal causes. It has not been taken up by child
survival advocates, although it kills 300,000 children each year in the world,"
Petersen said nearly 20 per cent of detected tuberculosis cases
in the western Pacific region were found in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, despite
those countries representing only 5 per cent of the region's
"We know exactly what needs to be done to stop TB. The most
effective way to fight TB is to stop it at its source. The source of the
epidemic's uncontrolled spread is infectious TB people who are not being
"Early diagnosis of infectious cases by...examination of all
suspect cases is critical," he said.
Narong Rith Dy said ensuring that
anti-tuberculosis drugs were a priority in Cambodia's medical-supply system was
"The government must establish policies and devote resources to
ensure that the right combination of medicines is taken for the proper length of
time, that health workers observe their patients taking this medicine and that a
national TB program is established to monitor progress, he said.
said infectious cases should be treated for a total of 1 year, but usually got
only 4-5 months of treatment in Cambodia.
People could be infected, and
spread the disease to others in close proximity, without knowing
Narong Rith Dy said the disease preyed on disadvantaged people,
especially those with poor nutrition and lack of clean water.
way to prevent its spread was to keep houses clean and hygienic and ensure
The disease had physical, social and economic
consequences, including loss of productivity.
Widely prevalent in the
places of poor economic and social standards, it further aggravated the lives of
the poorest people.
The provinces with the most infected people included
Takeo, Svay Rieng, Prey Veng and Kampong Speu.