Monday, July 6, 2009

Cambodia Claims Dengue Fever Disrupted People’s Lives

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The National Malaria Center Director Dr. Duong Socheat has said that dengue fever is one among many cruel and potentially fatal diseases to affect Cambodians.

“Dengue fever is completely preventable. Why then do we allow it to infect our children and why do we risk their lives when the solution is easy to implement?” he asked, during opening remark delivered to the Ant Dengue Campaign on June 30 in Phnom Penh.

Dr. Socheat said people could beat the scourge of dengue fever through simple measures such as keeping the domestic environment and the wider community clean, paying attention to areas where rainwater might pool, and using mosquito nets at night.

“I appeal to everybody to join the anti dengue fever campaign and to help us with this simple work. These tasks are straightforward, they involve no heavy work and they might just save the life of someone you hold dear,” he said.

Dr. Ngan Chantha, Deputy Director of the National Malaria Center, and Manager of the Dengue Fever Program, said the dengue virus claims the lives of at least 100 people every year in Cambodia.

Currently, Dr. Chantha said the disease has caused serious disruption in a number of cities and provinces in Cambodia including Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Takeo, Kratie and Prey Veng provinces.

He said that that the pattern of infection varied from province to province, some areas recording infections over large, concentrated areas, others noting infections in numerous scattered pockets. This makes the task of eradicating the disease all the more difficult for the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control.

During the first six months in this year, 3, 333 cases of dengue have been reported – all requiring hospital treatment. Sadly, 10 children have died because of the infection, according to a report revealed by Chantha.

He said in 2008, 1,811 people were affected by the disease and 23 people died; and in 2007, 12, 858 people caught the disease and 250 people died. These unfortunate statistics were recorded over the same 24-week period each year. He added that on average, 5 percent of the population can expect to have at least one struggle with the disease.

“Cambodia still has a long time to run before this season’s dangers are passed. I appeal to you all to be careful and take care of your children and other family members. We should work together to reduce these avoidable losses. Only in this way can we win the fight against dengue, malaria and the other deadly diseases that affect our nation,” he said.

He pointed out that dengue is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, particularly A. aegypti and A. albopictus. Dengue may also be transmitted via infected blood products including blood transfusions, plasma and platelets.

He said that so far, the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization have worked hard to teach people about the risks and preventative measures. He concluded by advising everyone to seek medical attention the moment they register dengue symptoms.

John Dickerson, Representative of the S.C Johnson Company, responsible for the “Raid” and “Off” brand of insecticides, said that his company has been active in Cambodia since 2005. He suggested that his company’s advertising campaigns and products may well be responsible for preventing many thousands of dengue infections. For instance, S.C. Johnson was responsible for posting flyers to over 4,000 houses in Phnom Penh detailing the threats. He promised to continue working in harmony with the Ministry of Health to reduce levels of infection.

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