The number of malaria cases is up by nearly 60 percent nationwide, according to the National Malaria Center’s year-end data.
The center’s director, though, downplayed the numbers, saying much of the increase is due to improved access to treatment.
The four provinces with the highest increases in numbers of cases were Kampot, Ratanakkiri, Siem Reap and Stung Treng, according to the center’s annual report.
In the southwestern province of Kampot, the number of confirmed malaria cases has more than doubled since 1996.
Ratanakkiri and neighboring Stung Treng province in the northwest also had increases in the rate of malaria of 43 percent and 65 percent, respectively.
In Siem Reap province, malaria cases increased by 61 percent from the year before.
But Dr Duong Socheat, deputy director of the National Malaria Center, said malaria in Cambodia is not getting worse. The number of cases has increased because data collection and access to remote areas has improved, he said.
“We are now able to look for malaria in areas far from towns,” he said. “That has increased our numbers.”
The annual report states that the percentage of severe cases nationwide has dropped by about 20 percent. The report credited earlier diagnosis and better medical care with controlling the severity of malaria cases.
Duong Socheat did say, however, that the malaria rate also rose dramatically in the northwest because of an increase in refugees displaced by fighting, and a rise in the movement of people in and out of former Khmer Rouge areas.
More than 80 percent of confirmed cases were among adults, indicating that the rise is partly due to an increase in the number of migrant workers in high-risk areas, the National Malaria Center’s year-end report says.