Rural Villagers Likely Beneficiaries of New Malaria Grant

February 13, 2003
By Michelle Vachon
The Cambodia Daily

People who will directly benefit the most from the $9.98 million grant approved by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last month will be villagers in the most remote areas of the country.

The five-year proposal submitted by the National Malaria Center and approved by the Global Fund last month includes plans to set up volunteer health workers in about 300 remote villages, which are at high risk of malaria and have little or no access to healthcare facilities.

The center tested this concept in two pilot studies launched in 2001 in 36 villages in Ratanakkiri province and 10 villages in Koh Kong province. They were supported by the European Commission Cambodia Malaria Project, which ended last year.
Health volunteers complemented the work of health care staff, said the malaria center in the proposal. Equipped with dipstick tests and prepackaged combination therapy, they were able to treat the disease in its early stages.

The study shows that health volunteers produced "a dramatic increase in the numbers of people receiving appropriate treatment for malaria," the malaria center said in its report.

According to the center's 2003 budget, $374,500 of the Global Fund grant will be used to train and establish two volunteers per village. The center's other major donors had not allocated funding for this new initiative.

About $300,000 of the Global Fund grant will serve to purchase, treat and distribute bednets. The money also will be used to retreat them with insecticide, said Seshu Babu, malaria control adviser to the malaria center. This must be done every six months, or at least once a year prior to the beginning of malaria transmission periods in the rainy season, he said.

The grant this year will also go toward training and monitoring, and malaria prevention through education campaigns.
The National Malaria Center intends to submit a new proposal to the Global Fund later this year in the hope of expanding another pilot project throughout the country, center Director Duong Socheat said.

In 2002, the malaria center and the Ministry of Women's Affairs conducted a study in 20 malaria-prone villages in Kompong Speu province. Results revealed that women were more at ease discussing their physical problems with female health volunteers.

The National Malaria Center would like to broaden this project to involve women in malaria control.

The Global Fund was set up by donor countries and private organizations at the end of 2001 to support health programs in developing countries. To obtain a grant, countries must not only submit detailed plans, but also must conduct evaluations each year in order to get annual installments of approved grants.