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The Fight Against Tuberculosis in Cambodia

A doctor points to an X-ray showing a pair of lungs infected with tuberculosis on board a mobile X-ray unit screening for TB in London, January 2014.

TB is a health problem nearly everywhere, particularly in developing countries, but nowhere more so than in Cambodia.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is an ancient disease, as old as human kind, and the leading cause of death from an infectious disease globally. TB is a health problem nearly everywhere, particularly in developing countries, but nowhere more so than in Cambodia.

This country of nearly 16 million people has one of the highest rates of Tuberculosis in the world, with 380 of every 100,000 Cambodians estimated to be infected. About two-thirds of all Cambodians carry the TB bacterium, and every year, around 13,000 people there die from the disease.

The United States Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, has been working with the National Center for Tuberculosis & Leprosy Control, or CENAT, a part of Cambodia’s Ministry of Health, to reduce the morbidity and mortality of the disease.

“In Cambodia, despite great achievements, we still see one of the highest burdens of TB within the region,” said Tina Lau, of USAID’s Cambodia Office, at the opening of the recently-held National Tuberculosis Conference.

“For this reason, TB remains a priority for USAID Cambodia. We have narrowed the gap on missing TB cases significantly since 2000, but these still represent over one third of total cases. USAID, in partnership with CENAT, has been developing innovative ways to identify the missing cases such as targeted screening of the elderly at pagodas, improving diagnosis of TB among children, and strengthening linkages between hospital departments so that when patients with TB symptoms are seen at other departments, they are referred for TB testing.”

The goal is to eliminate TB in Cambodia by the year 2035.

“USAID is committed to continue its participation in the global STOP TB partnership, its partnership with national TB programs, civil society and the private sector to support worldwide TB control efforts, including here in Cambodia,” said Tina Lau.

“We are proud to be a part the effort in Cambodia, given the remarkable achievements of the National TB Program, and stand ready to help achieve the goal of eliminating TB by 2035.”