Concert Set Up to Promote New Anti-Malaria Campaign

Oct 11, 2001 

By Brian Calvert
The Cambodia Daily
 

Phnom Penh locals are invited to a free 'prime time' concert in Phnom Penh this Saturday, as the Ministry of Health continues a marketing campaign to educate the public about malaria while promoting the National Malaria Center's new hammock nets and insecticide tablets. 

Saturday's concert will be at the TV3 station on Russian Confederation Boulevard near the train station and will be televised live. 

Among the leading acts are singers Soun Chantha, Sous Mach and Lean Sony, and 'a number of other stars,' according to You Ang, of McCann-Erickson, which is helping promoted the ministry's overall campaign. 

It will also feature a demonstration on how to properly treat the hammock nets to protect against malaria-carrying mosquitoes, which only bite at night.            

The concert will be held from 8 pm to 9 pm, and promoters hope to attract about 1,000 people. The real effort, though, is to reach the masses through television, You Ang said. 

'The primary objective is to reach as many people as possible during prime time,' he said. 

Malaria is not a risk in the city. But the hope is that Phnom Penh residents will see the usefulness of the hammock nets and treatment and buy them for their relatives in the provinces, You Ang said. 

The hammock nets are being sold 'in order to protect the people who go into the forest' for income or food, said Dr Duong Socheat, director of the National Malaria Center. 

While those people may leave their nets behind with families, they put themselves at risk in the forests, breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry malaria. 

There are about 1.5 million such people in Cambodia, said Dr Stefan Hoyer, malaria adviser for the World Health Organization. Of them, about 300,000 already have military-issued hammock nets, so the tablets are also sold separately. 

The media campaign for the nets includes two different commercials and other concerts, the first of which was held on Sunday in Battambang. 

More than 5,000 people attended that televised concert, which included singing, dancing and demonstration of how to use so-called 'peace pills' to treat the 'peace nets.' 

'Already some people are calling [the concerts] Woodstock East, because there is so much peace in it,' Hoyer said. 

The word peace, though, is used as a marketing device the message being that the nets and tablets provide a peaceful night's sleep for a more productive day. 

About 40,000 hammock nets and 120,000 chemical tablets have been produced so far by the National Malaria Center, Hoyer said. Profits from the nets and pills go into a revolving fund that is used to buy hammocks and pills. 

They will be distributed from about 100 different outlets around the country. The first 10,000 nets will be sold at a promotional price of 9,000 riel, with the price increasing to 12,000 riel after that. The first 30,000 tablets will be sold for 2,000 riel each with the price rising to 2,600 riel after that, Hoyer said.