/ 4 January 2008

Cambodia: 407 died from dengue fever in 2007

Cambodia suffered its worst-ever outbreak of dengue fever last year and it killed 407 people, most of them children, the highest toll in nearly a decade.

Dengue, which causes fever, headaches and agonising muscle and joint pains, had infected nearly 40 000 people since the first outbreaks last May, Ngan Chantha, director of the Health Ministry’s anti-dengue programme, said on Friday.

”It is the worst number of infectious cases ever in Cambodia,” he said, noting the disease infected 16 000 people and killed 424 in 1998.

Thousands of sick children sought free treatment at four Swiss-funded hospitals last year, but doctors said they did not have enough resources to treat everyone.

The World Bank, the World Health Organisation and the Red Cross have provided pesticides to kill mosquitoes, while the Asian Development Bank gave $300 000 to the anti-dengue programme.

Cambodia, whose healthcare system was devastated in 30 years of civil war, spends about $3 per person on health a year, according to the World Bank. — Reuters