The number of reported malaria deaths jumped by 33 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year, while the total number of cases last year rose annually by 42 percent, officials said yesterday, blaming the increase on better record keeping, early rains and migration to forested areas where malaria is prevalent.
In 2009, there were 279 reported deaths from malaria, compared to 209 in 2008, according to Tol Bunkea, chief epidemiologist at the Ministry of Health. There were a total of 83,777 reported malaria cases throughout last year, up from 58,887 in 2008.
The number of people cured of malaria jumped 22 percent in 2009 to 71,814 cases, while the number of life-threatening cases of the disease doubled, according to a copy of a speech given by Health Minister Mam Bun Heng yesterday at an annual meeting of government health officials.
Nong Saokry, deputy chief of the National Malaria Center, blamed the increases in reported deaths and malaria cases on wider availability of government health care, which he said led to better record keeping.
“We have more and more public health care, so people turn their attitude from going to the private sector to the public one,” he said.
Early rains and immigration to areas where malaria is found were also to blame, he added.
The government is trying to decrease the number of cases by improving public awareness of the disease, he explained.
“We are educating them through the radio, TV, leaflet, billboard and we also have volunteer working groups to tell them to get to the public hospital quickly if they have malaria symptoms,” he said. “We tell people not to move to the high-malaria areas, and to always sleep in the net.”
He added that the government is distributing mosquito nets treated with insecticide.
The government expects malaria statistics to start falling this year, according to Mr Saokry.
“We expect the number of cases and fatal cases to decrease in 2010,” he said.
The areas where malaria is most common are along the Thai and Vietnamese borders in Ratanakkiri, Mondolkiri, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Battambang, Pailin and Koh Kong provinces, Mr Saokry said.