Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng is optimistic that Cambodia will be able to eradicate “falciparum malaria” by 2023 and completely eradicate all forms of the malaria virus by 2025.

Bun Heng was addressing an annual meeting held in Preah Sihanouk province on February 20 to review the work results for 2022 and direction for 2023. He outlined the vision for a malaria-free Cambodia under the plan “Elimination of Plasmodium falciparum malaria by 2023”.

He noted that there have been no deaths from malaria since 2018, and as of the first two months of this year, only eight cases of malaria have been recorded in the Kingdom.

“Cambodia will continue to strengthen its monitoring work, especially to encourage volunteers to fight malaria with help from local authorities, especially in the villages and communes by monitoring the number of people who enter the forest.

“We must deliver mosquito nets, therapeutic drugs and shoes to them and later they will be tested for malaria,” Bun Heng said.

He said the government has paid the utmost attention to public health issues and has included them in the “framework for the sustainable development goals of Cambodia from 2016 to 2030” to ensure healthy livelihoods and improve wellbeing for all. It also aims to end the spread of HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, tropical diseases, dengue fever, chikungunya, worms, hepatitis, waterborne diseases and other infectious diseases by 2030.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen is highly committed to promoting public health … and achieving the national strategic plan for malaria eradication in the Kingdom by 2025,” he said.

Huy Rekul, director of National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (NCM), said that by end-2022 there were just 4,053 cases of malaria with no deaths recorded. This indicated that the number of cases has continued to decline by six per cent in 2022 compared to 2021’s total of 4,276 cases.

He said there were 414 cases of falciparum malaria which equals 10 per cent of the total number of malaria cases, with an increase of 20 per cent compared to the 344 cases in 2021

There were 3,581 cases of vivax malaria, which equaled 90 per cent of total malaria cases, with continued decreases by 10 per cent compared to 3,974 cases the previous year, Rekul added.

He said in 2022, indicators of all types of malaria incidence rate remained at 0.24, achieving 131 per cent of the target that year of 0.35, meaning that 91 per cent of the total number of operational districts (OD) has a disease incidence rate below 1.0.

“Falciparum malaria incidence indicators remained at 0.02, achieving 150 per cent of the target of 0.04.

“It is a matter of pride that the falciparum malaria indicators below 1.0 in the ODs has risen to 98 per cent, achieving 102 per cent of the 96 per cent target, except for the other two ODs, namely Sen Monorom [town in Mondulkiri province] and Phnom Kravanh district in [Pursat province], which are set to achieve this by the end of 2023,” Rekul said.