Norway To Help Cambodia Prevent Malaria

Cambodia has been named as a focus country for a new $225 million initiative launched by the Norwegian government aimed at improving people’s access to affordable malaria medication.

Announced a week ahead of World Malaria Day on April 24, the initiative will focus on providing malaria drugs known as “art-

emisinin combination therapies,” or ACTs, which are more effective than older drugs for treating resistant strains of malaria, according to a statement on the website of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which will manage the new Norwegian initiative.

Today, ACT drugs are 10 to 40 times more expensive compared to older drugs on the market, according to the statement, and the initiative aims to push old, ineffective drugs off the market by making ACTs more affordable.

The statement did not specify how much assistance was earmarked for Cambodia.

During 2008 Cambodia’s National Malaria Center recorded about 58,000 cases of malaria leading to more than 100 deaths, center Director Dr Doung So-

cheat said Sunday. The 2008 numbers are down slightly from 2007, when some 59,000 cases were reported and more than 200 people died.

The Malaria Center has applied for more funding from the Global Fund, and Dr Doung Socheat said he welcomes the focus on ACT drugs as there has been an increase in cases of a resistant strain along the Cambodia-Thai-

land border.

“At the moment the situation seems stable but there is still a need,” he said, adding that the older malaria treatments are fairly inexpensive in Cambodia, while the new ACT drugs are more difficult for Cambodians to find and afford.

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