News / Asia

Drug-Resistant Malaria Vexes Health Workers in Cambodia

Malaria researcher Sornsuda Setaphan prepares blood samples at hospital in Pailin, Cambodia (file photo)Malaria researcher Sornsuda Setaphan prepares blood samples at hospital in Pailin, Cambodia (file photo)
x
Malaria researcher Sornsuda Setaphan prepares blood samples at hospital in Pailin, Cambodia (file photo)
Malaria researcher Sornsuda Setaphan prepares blood samples at hospital in Pailin, Cambodia (file photo)
Neou Vannarin
PHNOM PENH – A little-known battle being fought in Cambodia could have global ramifications. The fight is against drug-resistant malaria.  

The problem is more severe in Cambodia than anywhere else in the world, says Steven Bjorge, the World Health Organization's malaria team leader in Cambodia.

About 17 percent of all cases in the Cambodian-Thai border area of Pailin were drug-resistant in 2011, up from 10 percent the year before, according to Char Meng Chuor, director of the government’s National Malaria Center. He says the drug-resistant disease has also spread to parts of Preah Vihear and Pursat, border provinces in Cambodia’s north and west. 

Drug-resistant malaria first evolved in Cambodia in the 1950s and 1960s, according to Bjorge. 

“Since then, every new drug seems to first become resistant in Cambodia or on the Thai-Cambodian border before anywhere else in the world,” he said.

Drug resistance occurs when a patient infected with the Plasmodium falciparum parasite takes an incomplete or incorrect course of anti-malarial drugs. This allows the parasite to evolve resistance to that medicine, so patients must take another course of drugs under the supervision of a doctor, says Char Meng Chuor.

Beyond Borders

The problem is greatest in border towns with a lot of traffic. Here, migrant workers might buy the wrong drugs without seeing a doctor, or misuse treatment in other ways, says Uth Sophal, Pailin field officer for the health group the Malaria Consortium. 

“Migrant people move from one province to another, so when they come to Pailin, which already has resistant malaria, when the mosquitoes bite those people, they will get that parasite and pass it from one province to another province, from one country to another,” he said. 

With some help, health workers are hoping that will change.

The Malaria Consortium has created a network of volunteers at Pailin’s border crossing to check and evaluate migrant workers and treat them if they have malaria.

“When Cambodians cross the border, we measure their temperature,” Uth Sophal said. “If they have any kind of illness, we have to immediately treat them.”

University Research, a global health company fighting drug-resistant malaria in sub-Mekong Region countries, is trying to ensure migrant workers are given bed nets before they move through malaria-prone areas. It is also training local people to provide malaria.

Global Ramifications

Char Meng Chuor says Pailin is the key to stopping the spread of the drug-resistant disease. And the stakes are high.

“Don’t be confused, the resistance is not just one person’s issue,” he said. “Malaria drug resistance is a problem for the whole community ... If mosquitos are imported to other countries, it will go to other countries … This is a concern of the world about Cambodia now.”

Worldwide, malaria infects more than 200 million people each year and kills more than half a million, most of them in Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO has been changing standard drug treatments to stay ahead of the parasite. Two months ago, it started using a drug called Malarone in Pailin, in the hopes of seeing a decrease. 

In a normal case of malaria, a course of drug treatment can eliminate the parasite from the patient’s blood within three days. But in drug-resistant cases, this is not enough to clear the parasite. With these patients, it can take anywhere from five to 28 days to flush out the malaria parasite. 

In Cambodia, the overall number of cases of malaria continues to drop, and with proper control, even the numbers of drug-resistant cases should fall, says Bjorge of the WHO. 

“It is not a hopeless situation,” he said. “I am actually hopeful about the future because we are having a lot of success in Cambodia, despite the headlines saying that drug resistance is growing. The main message is that malaria is dropping in Cambodia, and the few cases that remain are the drug-resistant cases.”

You May Like

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid