Lack of Funds Stalls Distribution of Malaria Center Nets

By Kate Woodsome
The Cambodia Daily

A recent donation of mosquito nets to the National Malaria Center should help the center reach its goal of distributing 200,000 nets by year's end.

But limited funding may keep many nets from reaching thousands of Cambodian, leaving them to fend off malaria on their own.

At least 50,000 mosquito nets stored at the National Malaria Center and provincial health care centers nationwide cannot be distributed to the people that need them due to limited funding, center Director Dr. Duong Socheat said last week.

"We have the nets. But once they're sent to provincial health centers. They're not distributed," Duong Socheat said.

The cost of transportation, fuel and per diem salaries is too great for the limited budget provided by the Ministry of Health, he said.

Now the center is waiting for nearly $10 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, but only time will tell whether the figures on paper will materialize into tangible support.

Some nets will arrive in villages, however, due to direct distribution from private donors.

A gift of 1,000 mosquito nets and 3,000 bottles of dengue serum was delivered Sunday to residents of Kompong Speu province, thanks to the recent homecoming of Lim Boun Leng a French Cambodian who runs the Association for the Support of Rural Action in France.

Lim Boun Leng was not always in the position to help others.

"When I was young, I was very poor so my family send me to live with other people. So now I can understand the poor," Lime Boun Leng said.

The belief that adversity must be overcome and a keen sense of Cambodia's pained history are today what drive Lim Boun Leng to help Cambodia fight against the ills of poverty.

"The first time saw the countryside, I was very sad for people. After that I gave all the money in my pocket to build a school, " he said, referring to a primary school his support helped construct in Kandal province in 1996.

Before he was building schools, Lim Boun Leng was teaching in them.

A member of the Royal University of Phnom Penh's Faculty of Science, he took a break from academia in April 1975 to join his in-laws on what should have been a short trip to France

But two weeks after Lim Boun Leng landed in Paris, Khmer Rouge soldiers took control of Phom Penh, killing his father and some of his seven brothers and sisters. (Additional reporting by Michelle Vachon)