Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Scientists step up malaria fight

Scientists step up malaria fight

Scientists step up malaria fight

120409_05

Efforts are under way in Myanmar to scale up the model for combating drug-resistant malaria along the Cambodian-Thai border.  Epidemiologists hope recent political changes in Myanmar will allow them to duplicate the success they have achieved here.

{jathumbnail}

A study published in the medical journal The Lancet last Friday confirmed years of anecdotal evidence that the deadliest strain of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, was becoming increasingly resistant to its most effective treatment – the drug artemisinin – along the Thai-Myanmar border.

Dr Steven Bjorge, of the malaria and vector-borne diseases department of the World Health Organisation in Cambodia, said publication of the 10-year study provided formal recognition that drug-resistant malaria was becoming more prevalent in Southeast Asia, but said this fact had been accepted among malaria experts for years.

Bjorge said there was also evidence of drug-resistant malaria along China’s border with Myanmar, as well as in Vietnam’s Bhin Phouc province, which borders Cambodia, but added he was optimistic it could be contained.

“We have shown [in Cambodia] that we can contain, reduce and eliminate malaria through effective health interventions that are diligently applied,” he said.

These included the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, early detection by village health volunteers and early treatment.

"If you have the resources and apply them in the right way, you can contain drug-resistant malaria"

Health experts told the Post in December a US$24 million malaria-containment project had begun along the Thai-Myanmar border, and it would draw on prevention, treatment and containment models developed here.

Dr Kheang Soy Ty, chief of University Research Corporation’s malaria containment project in Cambodia, told the Post yesterday the effort in Myanmar was being co-ordinated by USAID officials based in Bangkok.

URC, a partner in the malaria containment effort here, is implementing the effort in Myanmar.

Bjorge said political changes in Myanmar had given health workers “great hope” of duplicating their success.

“In Cambodia, we have shown that if you have the resources and apply them in the right way, you can contain drug-resistant malaria.”

There were nearly 40 per cent fewer cases of malaria in Cambodia last year than in 2010, according to the health ministry.

Between November and the end of February, the ministry distributed 2.7 million insecticide-treated bed nets in 4,000 villages.

The Lancet study did not determine whether the drug-resistant strain of malaria found on the Thai-Myanmar border was the same as the one detected here almost a decade ago.

Some epidemiologists are deeply concerned about drug-resistant malaria reaching Africa, where most of the one million deaths a year from malaria occur.

Artemisinin-based combination therapies are, however, proving effective in treating Plasmodium falciparum malaria and reducing drug resistance.

Efforts are under way globally to shift from relying solely on artemisinin to treat malaria to using it in combination with other drugs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vincent MacIsaac at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the