“Although progress has been made in controlling malaria in Cambodia during the past decade, it remains a significant issue for the Ministry of Health, the people of the region, and the international community,” writes William E. Todd, U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia in a column published in The Cambodia Herald.
“Malaria continues to place economic burdens on Cambodia, with wide-ranging effects such as reduced worker productivity, lowered school attendance, and significant out-of-pocket spending on malaria treatment by households,” Ambassador Todd noted.
Malaria remains a major cause of mortality among young children, with more than 1,000 children around the world dying from the disease every day.
According to the 2014 World Malaria Report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) last December, cases of malaria in Cambodia dropped from 50,000 to approximately 21,000 between 2010 and 2013. The declining number of deaths reported is due in part to the widespread distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, which the Government of Cambodia has strongly supported.
Ambassador Todd writes: “These and other actions are part of the Ministry of Heath’s National Strategy for Malaria Elimination, which seeks to free all Cambodians from the disease by the year 2025.”
“While current efforts are commendable, Ambassador Todd notes, “I encourage the Royal Government to focus even more resources towards the fight against malaria. A particular area of concern is the presence of sub-standard anti-malarial drugs, which threaten the success that has been achieved.”
Ambassador Todd commended U.S. government efforts to partner with Cambodia to achieve the goal of eliminating malaria in Cambodia by 2025. Since 2005, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have worked to reduce deaths related to malaria through the implementation of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).
The USAID-sponsored Control and Prevention of Malaria Project (CAP-Malaria) works at the community and health facility levels to improve the quality and effectiveness of malaria diagnosis and treatment. The importance of community-based education and engagement is also highlighted in recent reports of mosquito net misuse for fishing in local villages.
Summing up, Ambassador Todd said the U.S. believes “that everyone has a role in this fight.”