Officials say the new drugs needed to combat resistant strains of
malaria in the country's west are effective, but cost significantly
Anti-malarial drugs on sale in Phnom Penh on Sunday.
ALTHOUGH malaria cases have decreased in 2008, health officials have expressed concerns that high costs will limit the quantity of a vital new drug that can be purchased by health distributors in the coming year.
Kheng Sin, deputy director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, told the Post that a new outbreak of malaria was not imminent, but said in some areas in Battambang and Pursat provinces the parasite has shown some tolerance to anti-malarial drugs.
"Our national plan with the support of international partners is to curb the outbreak of malaria. We will introduce a new drug to eight provinces along the Thai border in priority areas," she said, adding that up to 2.5 million Cambodians are at risk from malaria infection.
"[But] our concern is that the new drug is more expensive than the current malaria treatment."
She said that due to public health services, education and the distribution of mosquito nets, the number of malaria deaths has dropped by about half since 1993.
The centre's director, Duong Socheat, said that 7,000 malaria cases were reported in the first 11 months of 2008, down from 15,000 last year.
Abdur Rashid, a doctor with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Phnom Penh, said the world body did not have detailed information about the threat of drug-resistant malaria strains.
"Increased resistance to malaria drugs is not linked to a malaria outbreak," Rashid said.
"We are currently discussing how to deal with the increase in the parasite's tolerance."