Cambodia presses fight against artemisinin-resistant malaria

Despite the impressive gains made here against artemisinin-resistant malaria, the battle is not over, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Shin Young-soo said today during a meeting with Vice-Governor Mey Meak.

Dr Shin expressed his appreciation to Mr Meak for Pailin's collaboration with the Cambodian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization in helping to contain this most serious form of malaria where it is endemic in western Cambodia on the border with Thailand.

“Pailin province is now known internationally as a success story in the fight against artemisinin-resistant malaria, and the lessons learned here can be applied in other areas in the region where this form of malaria could be emerging,” Dr Shin said.

Dr Shin Young-soo with the village malaria workers in Phnom Dambang village

Artemisinin is the most effective anti-malarial drug. However, resistance to it has occurred as a consequence of poor treatment practises and the widespread availability of counterfeit forms of the drug. WHO and the Cambodian health authorities are trying to eliminate artemisinin resistance in western Cambodia before it spreads to other countries.

Dr Shin warned that the gains could be short-lived if containment efforts are not sustained and gave the Vice-Governor his assurance that WHO would continue providing technical support to the ministry to ensure that gains are consolidated.

“Cambodia is on the path to malaria elimination by 2025, and we at WHO give the government our full support in eliminating this disease,” Dr Shin stressed.

Later, Dr. Shin visited a village malaria worker in Phnom Dambang village in Pailin.

Dr Shin with the staff of Kracharb Health Centre in Pailin Province

“Village malaria workers are the heroes in the fight to contain and eliminate malaria in Cambodia,” Dr Shin said, after examining the worker's treatment records, supplies of anti-malarials and rapid diagnostic tests.

Dr Shin then went to the Krachab Health Centre and spoke to its workers.

He also visited a cassava farm with mobile migrant workers in Preah Mongkol village near Pailin town. Mobile migrant workers are a cause of concern as they tend to move between areas of low and high malaria endemicity.

Earlier in Phnom Penh, Dr Shin paid a courtesy call on Health Minister Dr Mam Bunheng.

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