Dengue, Malaria Cases Take Big Dip in 2013
By | January 1, 2014

Both dengue fever and malaria deaths have plummeted this year compared to the same period in 2012, which was a peak year for the cyclical dengue, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health.

Dengue fever killed 59 people and infected 17,491 during the first 49 weeks of the year, said Nhan Chantha, director of the Health Ministry’s National Dengue Control Program.

That marks a significant drop from the 183 deaths and 41,716 cases recorded for the same period in 2012, a peak year for dengue fever, which moves in three- to five-year cycles. This year’s deaths are also slightly down from the 65 deaths recorded in 2008, the year after the previous peak in dengue cases.

Mr. Chantha explained that the high number of cases during each peak year helps build up immunity for the next few years. But he added that parents were still waiting too long to bring their sick children to the hospital.

“They still believe in the private clinics and don’t get their children to the hospital on time,” he said.

National Malaria Center director Char Meng Chuor said the country also faced future risks from regional neighbors where dengue cases are more prevalent.

“Even though the risk of transmission in Cambodia is low now, please keep in mind that Cambodia is a country located in Southeast Asia, which is currently the hotspot of [dengue] outbreaks in the world,” he said.

Malaria also took a much smaller toll on Cambodia this year.

The mosquito-borne parasite killed nine people and infected 37,287 during the first 11 months of the year, compared to 39 deaths and 64,376 infections during the same period in 2012, according to the Malaria Center.

Perhaps most impressively, none of the deaths occurred along Cambodia’s western border with Thailand, where resistance to the best available anti-malaria drugs was first noticed by health workers in 2007 and has continued to get worse.

An intense program along the border of distributing insecticide-treated mosquito nets, placing trained health workers in the most affected villages, and early detection have helped to cut down on cases.

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