Ready to beat malaria – World Malaria Day

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, 25 April 2018 – Today, WHO joins partner organizations in promoting this year’s World Malaria Day theme, Ready to Beat Malaria. This theme underscores the collective energy and commitment of the global malaria community in uniting around the common goal of a world free of malaria. It highlights the remarkable progress achieved in tackling one of humanity’s oldest diseases, while also calling out worrying trends as captured in the 2017 World Malaria Report.

The National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM) has been organizing World Malaria Day annually since 2005 and is this year celebrating it in Pursat province thanks to the support of the Global Fund/UNOPS, USAID/the President’s Malaria Initiative and WHO. The event is hosted by Veal Veng district, one of the most endemic for malaria in the country, to pursue awareness raising in the population and demonstrate decision-makers’ commitment to beat malaria.

Cambodia has made significant progress in reducing its total number of malaria cases by 42%, between 2012 and 2016. Furthermore, there has been an impressive decrease of deaths due to malaria, from 46 in 2012 to 1 death in 2017. Despite this progress, in February this year, the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM) has confirmed an increase of malaria cases, more than 20,000 cases compared to 2016, in 8 provinces in the south western and north-east region of the country.

In response to the increased number of malaria cases, an emergency response was organized by CNM with the support of WHO and other partners through combined interventions such as provision of rapid diagnostic tests and treatment, distribution of mosquito nets and technical support to affected provinces.

As highlighted in the most recent World Malaria Report, more countries are advancing towards elimination: in 2016, 44 countries had less than 10 000 cases of malaria, compared to 37 countries in 2010. Cambodia is strongly committed to joining the list of these successful countries and to reaching the elimination goal with the five countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion by 2025.

But challenges remain – the main one is resistance to artemisinin, identified for the first time in Cambodia in 2006. Dr Liu Yunguo, WHO Representative in Cambodia, encourages the Ministry of Health “to accelerate efforts while the opportunity of elimination is an obtainable objective by fully addressing now the artemisinin resistance challenge through the implementation of clear action steps in the Malaria Elimination Action Framework 2016–2020.”

WHO supported and will continue to provide strong support to the Ministry of Health in developing policy and strategic guidance documents, in technical implementation and in mobilizing resources to reach malaria elimination in Cambodia.

Without urgent action, the major gains in the fight against malaria are under threat. On this World Malaria Day, WHO continues to call for greater investment and expanded coverage of proven tools that prevent, diagnose and treat malaria.