The number of cases of tuberculosis detected in Cambodia last year was half the amount estimated by the World Health Organization, an improvement health officials are attributing to better detection and care programs, officials said at an international symposium disseminating the results of a national TB survey.
The National TB and Prevalence Survey—the country’s first documented study on TB incidence and care—found that approximately 270 of every 100,000 Cambodians in 2002 tested positive for TB, a lower figure than the WHO’s projection that 572 of every 100,000 Cambodians would carry the disease.
Survey findings were derived from a study of 30,000 patients conducted in 20 provinces by the Ministry of Health’s National Center for TB and Leprosy Control with support from the WHO and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
“This clears the doubts that existed about the real burden of disease in the country,” said WHO TB Medical Officer Dr Jay Avanth.
Study teams in 2002 recorded 24,710 TB cases, of which 17,258 had died, Avanth said. The WHO estimates that there are approximately 90 TB-related deaths per 100,000 people.
Cambodia is one of 22 “burden countries” with the highest incidence of TB cases in the world, a group that could see the number of TB infections double by 2005 due to complications from HIV/AIDS, Avanth said.
Case detection should help curb new infections in the long run, however, said Dr Hideki Yanai of the Research Institute of Tuberculosis of Japan. He said detection can lead to treatment, which ultimately will stop the disease from being passed from one carrier to another.
More than 85 percent of detected cases have been cured since the government started its Directly Observed Treatment with Short-Course Chemotherapy program in 1994, said the Ministry of Health Secretary of State Mam Bun Heng. The survey is part of the government’s five-year TB Control Program, which began in 2001.