A senior Ministry of Health official expressed optimism that Cambodia will have no more cases of or deaths from tuberculosis (TB) by 2050, given the clear national vision and strategy that has been set to address the problem in stages.

Huot Chan Yuda, director of the National Centre for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control (CENAT), was speaking at the commencement of a training course for provincial officials on monitoring and evaluating TB cases on November 10.

He said his optimism is based on the five goals outlined in the national strategy to end TB for the period of 2021-2030 through the progress that had been made already with the national TB control programme and the improvement of its surveillance capacity.

“Surveillance – detecting new cases of TB – is the one pillar of the national strategy that provides bracing support for the other four pillars,” he said.

The other four pillars are universal treatment for all TB patients, the use of TB-specific priority programmes, prevention of the emergence of new cases and the creation of a supportive environment for CENAT to operate effectively to combat TB.

According to Chan Yuda, this will be the first class of officials who are trained to be trainers themselves and impart their knowledge and skills to their co-workers in state institutions and to NGO workers providing TB-related support services back in their home provinces so that everyone can work together to implement the national strategic plan.

The course will increase the capacity of the officials to effectively and accurately monitor and evaluate their local area for signs of new TB cases.

“Through this course, participants will learn the basics of monitoring, evaluation and surveillance, focusing on the national priorities set out in the national strategic plan and they will get training on how to analyse and interpret TB data,” he said.

He said the data is synthesised as an input for report generation in order to gain a better understanding of how to develop processes for management, maintenance, monitoring and evaluation systems that will work well in the Cambodian context.

Lena Neat Arango, team leader for the infectious diseases unit at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said TB is a top priority for US government intervention and that USAID would continue to work globally with its partners in government, civil society and the private sector to bring about the end of TB.

From January to September, Cambodia has had a total of 14,610 TB patients with varying degrees of severity of illness, according to the CENAT report.

According to the World Health Organisation in Cambodia, for 2020 the death toll from TB was 20 per 100,000 people with the disease – a slight increase over the 17 deaths per 100,000 cases in 2019.