The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) today committed to eliminating Plasmodium falciparum within the next few months and not treating cases by 2023 by introducing an innovative and targeted approach to the “last mile” of malaria control in the country.
P. falciparum is the deadliest strain of malaria and is resistant to antimalarial drugs, making efforts to get rid of it urgent.
According to the objectives set out in the Malaria Elimination Framework, Cambodia is on the verge of success. We are now at the stage of eliminating P. falciparum by 2023, not only in Kampong Speu but in all other remaining provinces as well. “
HE Professor Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health
SE Minister Bunheng encouraged all health workers, officials, authorities, partners and people to make every effort on this last mile to eliminate P. falciparum, saying: “Working together enables malaria to be eradicated in Cambodia.”
Dr. Li Ailan, representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Cambodia, praised the work done.
“I am very impressed with the tremendous efforts that have been made to eradicate malaria at the local, provincial and national levels. We appreciate the joint action of the partners for this. Coming very close to the goal, Cambodia may be the first country in the region to eradicate P. falciparum malaria and act as the champion in the Greater Mekong sub-region. “
The start of the “last mile” of the fight against malaria took place in Kampong Speu at an event in which the Ministry of Health (MOH), the WHO, the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM), the Kampong Governorate, took part. Speu, the United Nations Office for Project Services; and other partners. SE Minister Mam Bunheng, Dr. Huy Rekol, Director of the CNM, and HE Vei Samnang, Governor of Kampong Speu, gave speeches recognizing this historic moment.
At the event, all parties involved agreed to support three interventions to eradicate P. falciparum from malaria hotspots in five provinces:
- Distribution of mosquito nets;
- Weekly house-to-house fever screening to ensure that everyone with a fever is tested for malaria and treated if they behave positively; and
- Targeted drug delivery and intermittent preventive treatment for travelers visiting areas at risk of malaria.
The “last mile” of malaria control is an innovative approach that builds on Cambodia’s impressive advances in fighting and eradicating malaria in recent years. MOH, including the National Malaria Program with technical and programmatic support from WHO, increased engagement with partners, communities and civil societies to ensure full implementation of the National Plan’s activities and the use of aggressive malaria reduction measures.
Cambodia has continued its intense response to eradicating malaria during the COVID-19 pandemic and has recently reached historically low malaria incidence levels. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the country has minimized disruption, prioritized preparedness, and made solid strides in the fight against malaria. Following the reporting of 3,528 cases of P. falciparum and mixed malaria in September 2017, only 72 cases of P. falciparum and mixed malaria were reported in around 60 villages in September 2020. This achievement is all the more remarkable given that Cambodia is the epicenter of malaria multidrug resistance in the US region.
The answer is part of a wider initiative supported by the WHO Mekong Malaria Elimination (MME) program. The key to the success of this aggressive approach is the active involvement of village malaria workers, forest villagers, and leaders of remote communities. This involvement captures key insights from those most affected by the problem and provides an opportunity for local communities to participate in malaria interventions. These local partnerships are essential to ensure that Cambodia hits the unreached and underserved destination and establishes a community buy-in.
The work done in Cambodia will be critical to progress in the greater Mekong area. I hope that we can use this forward-looking and locally-focused approach as a blueprint for future interventions in the sub-region. “
Dr. Luciano Tuseo, MME hub coordinator
WHO will assist MOH, particularly CNM, and partners in ensuring an effective technical strategy and provide operational and financial support to achieve the elimination goal. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has allocated $ 2 million to more aggressive intervention.
After eliminating P. falciparum malaria, Cambodia’s next goal is to eliminate all species of malaria by 2025.
The World Health Organization