The government is committed to eradicating malaria in community protected areas, where the disease is usually prevalent, in line with the National Malaria Strategic Plan 2011-2025.
Environment Minister Say Samal on Tuesday said that efforts to tackle malaria and other infectious diseases were ongoing alongside others aimed at managing biodiversity resources in these areas.
He was speaking at a meeting with officials, park rangers and residents during a visit to Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Thom province.
“Eliminating communicable diseases, consideration on food security and nutrition, and access to education is fundamental to improving the lives of local communities by preserving their culture, tradition, religion and ethnicity in order to create ecotourism through which they can grow the family economy,” Mr Samal said.
He said improving health is one of the government’s priorities for economic development.
Hoeun Sopheap, a representative of the Prey Lang community, yesterday said that he is optimistic over the commitment by Mr Samal to eliminate malaria in the community and other protected areas.
“Most villagers are aware of how to prevent malaria after being educated by health officials and through the media,” he said. “We also have enough equipment and medicines to protect us from mosquito bites both at home and while in the forest.”
Mr Sopheap noted that apart from activities to protect natural resources in the forest, the community and park rangers also focus on efforts to protect people’s health.
“We cannot protect our forests well unless we are healthy and have enough food to eat. Our first priority is to help prevent diseases and educate people on being healthy, before we move to protect the forests,” he said. “I think the commitment by the Environment Minister is helpful, but I want him to closely cooperate with health officials to distribute more mosquito nets, medicine and other equipment to villagers, rangers and relevant officials who work in the forests.”
Mr Sopheap noted that the number of malaria cases in the Prey Lang community had dropped by about 70 percent when compared to four or five years ago.
Health Minister Mam Bun Heng late last month urged health officials throughout the country and partner organisations to continue to pay attention to the implementation of the National Strategic Plan and strengthen action to successfully eliminate all forms of malaria by 2025.
According to the ministry, the number of malaria cases in the Kingdom has been decreasing and there were no deaths from the disease in recent years.