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Despite many public health advancements in the region, 65 million people in Southeast Asia are at risk of malaria infection. An estimated 900,000 people are infected with malaria each year, but the true number is likely much higher because of poor detection and reporting in rural areas where the disease is common. Additionally, there is a growing concern about strains of the disease that are resistant to artemisinin, the most effective malaria treatment drug, especially in the Thailand-Burma and Thailand-Cambodia border regions.
In line with the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the 2009 Lantos-Hyde Malaria Strategy, the PMI Mekong Program aims to prevent the spread of artemisinin drug resistant malaria. The program focuses on the border areas where drug resistant malaria has been detected, with support for activities like surveillance for drug resistance, drug quality monitoring and community interventions.
Recent assistance has focused on advanced diagnosis and treatment regimens, and promotion of mosquito bednets-- measures which have dramatically reduced infection rates and the lethality of the disease in most areas of the region. Between 1998 and 2010, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam have collectively achieved an 81 percent reduction in the annual number of deaths attributed to malaria.
- USAID’s Promoting the Quality of Medicines project is providing assistance for Southeast Asian countries to control and regulate counterfeit and substandard medicines.
- Assistance is being provided to develop a regional strategy (strengthening surveillance for anti-malarial drug resistance, improving lab diagnosis and ensuring proper treatment) to combat emerging multi-drug resistant malaria and eliminate malaria from the Mekong region.
- The President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) is also procuring rapid diagnostic test kits to quickly assess patients, and long-lasting insecticide treated nets, which provide an effective barrier between insects and humans and help kill mosquitoes and other insects over time.
- The Trilateral Cooperation for Health project, jointly implemented by Burma, Thailand and United States has established five sets of “twin cities” on the Burma –Thailand border. The twin cities model will provide a platform to synchronize malaria control activities in both countries.
Malaria regional program achievements in Burma, Cambodia and Thailand from 2007 to 2012 included:
- More than 146,200 individuals have received malaria prevention and treatment education.
- Every year, more than 500 health care workers have been trained in malaria diagnosis and case management (a combined effort by USAID and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
- More than 700,000 insecticide treated nets have been distributed.
Last updated: January 12, 2015