Yeang Chheang
Former Deputy Director of the National Malaria Control Program, Centre National de Malariologie

Winning the REACH Unsung Hero Award is extremely exciting. I would like to acknowledge and thank the jury committee for their selection of me, based on the work I’ve led throughout my life.

Yeang Chheang has devoted seven decades of his life to fighting malaria and dengue in Cambodia, persevering through the Khmer Rouge regime and displaying an unwavering commitment to public health.

After training at the Institut de Biologie de Phnom Penh, Yeang helped initiate the first malaria eradication pilot project in the Snuol District of Kratie Province in eastern Cambodia. He held a number of progressively senior roles, eventually assuming leadership as chief of the malaria program technical bureau at the same time as the Khmer Rouge came into power. Surviving captivity, deportation, famine, and forced labor, Yeang and 12 other survivors secured US$1.8m from the World Health Organization to re-establish the National Malaria Control Program several years later, following the end of the Khmer Rouge regime.

After the Peace Accords were signed, Yeang became Deputy Director of the National Malaria Control Program, introducing the first insecticide-treated mosquito net program in Cambodia and later establishing the country’s National Dengue Control Program.

In addition to his commitment to malaria eradication, Yeang has devoted his life to engaging and educating communities, as well as mentoring aspiring public health professionals. After decades of focused effort, Yeang’s leadership has brought Cambodia to the brink of malaria elimination—a significant achievement in the country’s public health history.