Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Malaria cases plunged in 2016

Malaria cases plunged in 2016

A health worker explains mosquito-borne diseases at a health centre in Pailin province. Tang chhin sothy/Afp
A health worker explains mosquito-borne diseases at a health centre in Pailin province. Tang Chhin Sothy/Afp

Malaria cases plunged in 2016

The number of malaria cases in Cambodia plummeted by more than 50 percent in 2016, compared to 2015, though experts and recent research findings suggest the emergence and spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites in the Greater Mekong subregion represents a “serious threat” in the elimination of the disease.

The Ministry of Health’s National Malaria Centre yesterday released its 2016 malaria figures, which show a 54 percent drop in cases. In 2016, the Kingdom recorded a total of 23,627 cases, compared to 51,262 in 2015.

The number of deaths also dipped to only one, compared with 10 the previous year. That figure represents a sharp decrease over the past five years, down from 112,057 cases and 93 fatalities in 2011.

National Malaria Centre director Huy Rekol did not respond to multiple requests for comment yesterday, though the statement said officials attributed the decrease in both cases and fatalities to better prevention efforts, and more knowledge about the mosquito-borne illness among villagers in hot spots.

Professor François Nosten, director of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, a field station for tropical medicine faculty at Mahidol University in Bangkok, said it’s “good news” that the number of malaria cases in Cambodia is going down, but that’s typical when there’s an increase in control by instituting better detection and treatment.

“However, it is only hiding, and will come back as soon as resistance is established,” he said. “This has already happened in the past … The priority should be to rapidly eliminate malaria rather than just controlling it.”

In Cambodia, just shy of 60 percent of malaria cases involve the parasite plasmodium falciparum, which first emerged in the Kingdom in 2008, and is resistant to the most potent anti-malaria drugs, according to a 2016 WHO report.

Dr Luciano Tuseo, head of the malaria program at WHO Cambodia, said last year’s introduction of a new combination of drugs – Artesunate-Mefloquine, or ASMQ – which followed the failure of Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine, or DHA-PIP, could have a played a role in the drop in cases.

The DHA-PIP failure rate in Cambodia ranges between 10 to 50 percent, he said. Though, for the moment, there hasn’t been any ASMQ drug failure, he said.

“Cambodia’s Ministry of Health, [the] malaria program and its partners, including the main donors … are really engaged to eliminate malaria P falciparum before 2020,” he said.

However, a study published last week in The Lancet, a UK-based medical journal, said the emergence and geographic spread of artemisinin-resistant P falciparum lineage – which is outcompeting other malaria parasites in the Greater Mekong subregion – “represents a serious threat to global malaria control and aspirations to eliminate malaria”.

“We hope this evidence will be used to reemphasise the urgency of malaria elimination in the Asia-region before falciparum malaria becomes close to untreatable,” the researchers said in a statement. `

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be