The fight against malaria in Cambodia has gained momentum following a commitment made at a recent meeting in Siem Reap. Local institutions pledged to adopt new strategies and cooperate to wipe out the life-threatening disease by 2025.

Kros Sarath, an adviser to the Ministry of Health and director of the Siem Reap provincial health department, said the second quarterly meeting of the Provincial Task Force on Malaria Eradication saw participation from relevant parties.

“We need to regularly check and monitor disease trends, if there is an increase, we need to find new strategies and work together to eradicate malaria as effectively as possible and get better results,” he emphasised.

The meeting aimed to bolster the working group’s role and assess the province’s current malaria situation, with plans to eliminate the disease within the next two years. Participants confirmed a significant decrease in malaria cases, with only 12 reported in the first half of 2023, all of which have fully recovered.

The health department urged the task force to persist with educational efforts on malaria prevention. These include eliminating mosquito breeding sources and larvae, promoting environmental hygiene and encouraging timely consultation and treatment at the nearest public health facility.

On National Malaria Day, April 25, Prime Minister Hun Sen affirmed his commitment to the National Strategic Plan’s success in eradicating malaria. Since 2016, malaria cases have dropped drastically, with no deaths recorded since 2018, due to the disease no longer showing resistance to antimalarial drugs.

Despite these gains, the premier called for continued effort towards total eradication. A notable decline in malaria cases has been observed, from over 110,000 cases and 500 deaths in 2011 to 4,041 cases and no deaths in 2022. This marks a six per cent decrease compared to 2021, which recorded 4,318 cases.

“The National Strategic Plan to eradicate malaria in Cambodia has been successful since 2016, but we must keep pushing to eradicate malaria as planned,” he said.

Health minister Mam Bun Heng, speaking at National Malaria Day celebrations in Stung Treng province, urged relevant institutions to execute the National Strategic Plan to eliminate malaria by 2025. He highlighted the disease’s grave public health and socio-economic impact, caused by the Plasmodium group’s single-celled microorganisms, which are spread exclusively via infected Anopheles mosquitoes.

The minister stressed the infection process, explaining that an infected mosquito’s bite introduces the parasites into a person’s bloodstream. They then make their way to the liver, where they mature and reproduce. This lifecycle of the disease contributes to the continuous need for strategic prevention and treatment methods.

The message resonated strongly with the gathered officials, echoing the broader national objective to eliminate malaria. The meeting in Siem Reap signifies a significant stride towards this goal, with a clear commitment to concerted action and collaborative efforts across relevant institutions and the public.

The disease, once rampant, has seen an unprecedented decline in Cambodia over the past decade. With dedicated efforts and strategies, the goal of eradication by 2025 seems attainable. This target aligns with the broader global ambition to wipe out malaria, a disease that has afflicted humanity for centuries.

The meeting served as a reminder of the strides made so far and the continued vigilance required to ensure malaria’s eradication.

By maintaining focus and continuing to innovate in prevention and treatment strategies, Cambodia aims to become a malaria-free nation.