European Commission Project Providing Valuable Education

October 17, 2002
By Michelle Vachon
The Cambodia Daily

During the last five years, the European Commission Malaria Control Project has addressed one of Cambodia's most dire needs—the shortage of qualified human resources, said Duong Socheat, director of the National Malaria Center.
"The training supported by the project has benefited not only the malaria center, but also public health" efforts throughout the country, he said.

With the EC project ending in December, it will be imperative to find other sources of funding, said Duong Socheat. And Cambodia has already submitted a proposal to the World Bank, he said.

"We hope that it will be approved because we need to keep training more and more people," Duong Socheat said.
Since the EC project began in 1997, two levels of training have taken place, according to Roberto Garcia, European co-director for the project.

The first level involved Cambodians attending courses ranging from three weeks to two years in foreign countries. Topics for the courses have included entomology and parasitology, tropical medicine and hygiene, and also project management and data software. Some people trained in epidemiology—one of the areas in which the country most lacks expert knowledge, according to Duong Socheat.

The second level was made up of training sessions conducted by Cambodians returning from those education programs abroad.

At an evaluation session on Tuesday, the 49 Cambodians who took part in the international training program said that they had especially appreciated the fact that it included three parts—a selection process, the course itself and having to conduct specialized training in Cambodia afterward.

Candidates for training abroad had to go through an interview and pass an English test done by an outside consultant to make sure that people selected would truly benefit from the courses given in English, Garcia said. This led to offering malaria staff English classes that emphasized medical and malaria terminology, he said.

On their return, participants said they enjoyed sharing what they had just learned with people in the field.
An additional 113 malaria workers around the country attended their sessions, which were given in Khmer.
In addition to training, the program has helped expand the malaria staff's network of contacts, which is very important, Duong Socheat said.

"It's already in our plan of action to share our experience with colleagues," he said.
The exchange of information is one of the reasons why the National Malaria Center set up its Web site earlier this year, he said.

During the evaluation session, participants recommended updates and refresher courses in computer software to better manage projects and handle statistics. Talking about the needs in the country, they suggested having NGOs help the military with malaria control.