© Tim Dirven/Panos Pictures

Cambodia

In Cambodia in 2017, MSF projects based in Phnom Penh and Preah Vihear province focused on tackling hepatitis C and malaria, respectively.

Cambodia has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia after two decades of relative stability, following a catastrophic civil war and the end of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Two million people died between 1975 and 1978 during Pol Pot’s brutal leadership of the country.

The economy is dominated by garment-making, but tourism is expanding, and there are hopes to tap into offshore oil and gas reserves and draw in overseas investment.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Cambodia in 1979. Our work in the country is focused on treating endemic diseases like HIV and tuberculosis (TB).

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MSF’s work in Cambodia: 2017

In May 2016, MSF launched a programme offering free diagnosis and treatment for hepatitis C.

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Although its prevalence is unknown, it is estimated that between two and five per cent of the Cambodian population is infected. Once considered a lifelong and deadly disease, treatment for this blood-borne virus has been revolutionised in recent years with the arrival of new – and expensive – drugs, called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs).

The project is based at Preah Kossamak hospital in the capital, Phnom Penh. One of its goals is to simplify diagnosis and treatment, to show its cost-effectiveness and make it replicable in other countries. In 2017, MSF treated 2,926 patients with DAAs, which cure more than 95 per cent of people who complete the treatment.

In Preah Vihear province, northern Cambodia, resistance to one of the powerful antimalarial drugs, artemisinin, has been confirmed. MSF is testing strategies to help eliminate the disease – in particular the resistant Plasmodium falciparum form – through a combination of screening, testing and treatment. Teams continued to support testing and treatment in the community and in health facilities, as well as screening for people at risk of infection. 

Research carried out in 2017 provided an insight into the development of resistance to the three main drugs used to treat Plasmodium falciparum (or severe) malaria. The outcomes of the research will be evaluated, and recommendations will be made for potential replication elsewhere.

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