Cambodia DHS lacks adequate attention to malaria

cambodia-dhs-2010-cover-sm.jpgThe Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2010 report is now available for download.

Surprisingly little information is available about malaria.  The following narrative on ‘fever’ was provided:

“Less than 1 percent of children with fever received antimalarial drugs, whereas 44 percent received antibiotic drugs. Use of antibiotic drugs was more common in urban areas (52 percent) than in rural areas (43 percent) and more common among mothers with at least a secondary education (54 percent) than among mothers with no schooling (39 percent). Mothers in Prey Veng (85 percent) and those in Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Speu (79 percent in both) were most likely to use antibiotic drugs to treat fever.”

We note that Cambodia is a place where artimisinin resistance has been suspected and yet these DHS results do not diagnose malaria with RDTs as is done in other DHS and MIS surveys. Therefore, appropriate treatment cannot be ascertained from the results. This is made more complicated by the following list of appropriate and inappropriate medicines in the survey instrument that were lumped together under the title “antimalarials”: SP/FANSIDAR, CHLOROQUINE, QUININE, MALARINE, A+M, MEFLOQUINE, ARTEMISININ, ARTESUNATE TABLET, ARTESUNATE SUPPOSITORY, ARTEKINE, COTEXIN.

While the report mentions…

“Iron and folic acid supplementation and antimalarial prophylaxis for pregnant women, promotion of the use of insecticide-treated bednets by pregnant women and children under 5, and six-month deworming for children are some important measures used to reduce anemia revalence among vulnerable groups…”

… it does not report on bednet use.

RBM partners are trying to take the problem of malaria in Asia seriously. They would be assisted by better data on the malaria situation in countries like Cambodia.

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