Monday, June 15, 2009

Cambodia to Reduce Number of TB HIV/AIDS Fatalities

BY BUITH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Government will reduce the rate of infection and mortality caused by Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS. The deadline for this project falls at the end of 2012. The specific plan was revealed by Dr. Mean Chhi Vun, Director of the National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs (NCHADS) in the Ministry of Health.

The government, in collaboration with involved ministries, institutions and development partners will do every thing possible to reduce prevalence by the deadline, said Dr. Vun. He added that the Ministry of Health and related development partners will conduct screening sessions to locate infected people towards the end of this year. According to the Health Ministry’s plan, a total of 230 public hospitals and health centers in cities and provinces will be selected for the TB/HIV diagnosis and screening program.

“I note that the prevalence of HIV associated with TB in Cambodia is still high compared to other countries in Southeast Asia,” said Dr. Vun. He was speaking to an audience attending a workshop on improving diagnostic procedures. The event took place at the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh.

Dr. Vun said that the general goal of TB screening was to include all people with HIV/AIDS. Beyond this there will be generalized testing for those who fall within the high risk of infection category including careers and family members of existing patients.

“We have to work hard to eradicate the deadly combination of HIV and TB via improved diagnostic techniques,” he said. “We must work towards a future where this threat no longer poses a danger to our people.”

Dr. Vun referred to the Government’s enviable accomplishments in dealing with HIV/AIDS. Its actions have reduced the infection rate from a high of 3.3% in 1997 to today’s figure of 0.9%. With a record like this, he said he felt confident that the new drive would reach its goals.

The Director pointed out that to date, over 50,000 Cambodians live with HIV/AIDS. Of this number, 38,000 patients receive Anti-Retroviral (ARV) Treatment.According to the Health Ministry’s Master Plan, Cambodia is coming closer to its objective of making ARV drugs available to nearly all who need them by 2010. The treatment is given freely to all people who present themselves with the symptoms. The treatment is available from 77 public hospitals, health centers and partner organizations across the country.

“We receive the highest levels of cooperation from the Ministry of Health, NCHADS, National AIDS Authority (NAA), private donors, the public health system and the NGO sector,” Dr. Vun said. “This group’s common purpose will be to bring infection rates to below 0.6 by 2012.”

Dr. Mao Tan Eang, Director of the National Center for TB and Leprosy Control (CENAT) at the Ministry of Health, said that since 2000, CENAT and NCHADS have worked hard to provide treatment, counseling and TB or HIV screening. This has resulted in treatment for 50 percent of the nation’s TB sufferers. He added that according to the Ministry of Health, approximately 95 percent of people living with TB and carrying HIV/AIDS will receive treatment by 2012.

Dr. Khun Kim Eam, CENAT’s TB Technical Bureau Chief, said that Cambodia has a high rate of TB/HIV infection. This fact leads Cambodia to be placed on a list of 22 other countries with unacceptably high TB burdens.

Dr. Kim Eang pointed out that according to report, there are 210 cases of TB for every
100,000 head of population. Incredibly, according to Ministry statistics, up to 64 percent of the population are carriers of the disease though they show no symptoms. By 2050, the nation can look forward to a much-reduced figure of roughly one in a million, according to the World Health Organization.

According to official figures published by the Ministry of Health, HIV has claimed 100,000 Cambodian lives since 1991. Some 50,000 people have died of TB during the same period. ////


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