Wednesday, 16 March 2011 18:54Vong Sokheng and Mary Kozlovski
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday announced a plan to eradicate malaria in the Kingdom by 2025, at the closing ceremony of the 32nd annual health congress in Phnom Penh.
Speaking to Ministry of Health officials, the premier appealed for a strong commitment to fight malaria over the next 14 years.
“We will aim toward 14 years in order to eliminate malaria in our country and, for me, I have an optimism that the country will have no malaria by 2020 or 2021,” said Hun Sen.
Dr Duong Socheat, head of the National Malaria Centre at the Ministry of Health, said today that the plan was the result of detailed government consultation.
“We have the first phase, the elimination of the parasite from 2011 to 2015; from 2015 to 2020, we have no deaths in Cambodia from malaria, and up to 2025 all forms of malaria will be eliminated,” he said.
Dr Steven Bjorge, the World Health Organisation’s team leader for malaria in Cambodia, said the plan showed high-level political support for malaria control.
“It’s a total provision of early diagnosis treatment by village malaria volunteers, it’s elimination of substandard drugs, provision of very good drugs that are fully effective…[and] behaviour change and communication based on principles of health education,” said Bjorge.
However, Bjorge said that the target was “very optimistic”.
“Any kind of malaria control or elimination is going to take 10 or 15 years at the very least and anything can happen, from political changes to environmental catastrophes to economic problems that cause curtailment if the funding suddenly dries up,” he said.
Tol Bunkea, head of epidemiology at the NMC, said that in 2010 malaria affected 56,217 people in Cambodia and killed 135 compared with 80,000 affected and 200 killed in 2009.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KHUON LEAKHANA