Program Aims to Improve Prevention, Treatment Methods

November 20, 2003
By Nick Engstrom
 
The Cambodia Daily
 

The Management of Malaria Field Operations is holding a training program at the National Malaria Center until Dec 1 for 21 malaria supervisors and district operations directors who will learn how to make their methods of prevention and treatment of the illness more effective.  

For two weeks the participants will take courses from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm in subjects such as communication skills, presentation skills, epidemic investigation, problem-solving, and outbreak preparedness.  

The participants come from the nine provinces with the highest malaria transmission rates.  

Dr Chea Nguon, the training coordinator of the program, is teaching the problem-solving course. He demonstrated the 17-step method the trainees will learn.  

According to his study sheet, the first step is identifying the problem. The last step is figuring out the budget. In between is deciding how to tackle the causes of problems, and identifying which problems are beyond a practical solution.  

However, the difference between the practical solution and the logistically impossible usually comes down to money considerations, so the last step in the problem-solving progam isn't quite the last step, Chea Nguon said.  

"When you have money problems you must focus on what you consider the most important problems and you must drop others," Chea Nguon said. "If you have lots of money, you don't have to prioritize resources, but unfortunately this is the real world."  

The MMFO program focused on inviting a malaria supervisor and an operating district director from each of the nine provinces with the highest malaria transmission rates. Almost all of those invited to the program are doctors.  

"If we train the two together in Phnom Penh then they will work better together when they return home," Chea Nguon said. He added they will be able to teach their subordinates.  

The program is funded by $11,500 from the World Health Organization and the US Agency for International Development channeled through the ACTMalaria organization.  

Chea Nguon said that although Cambodia has sent malaria specialists to the annual international MMFO program, held abroad since 1997, Cambodia is now hosting it first national conference and is scheduled to co-host its first international MMFO program next October with Thailand.  

Other countries have annual national MMFO programs Laos' program is 20 days long and China's is 26 days. Cambodia's national conference is only 14 days because of budget restrictions, he said. It also has a limited number of participants because of the budget.  

"We wanted to invite 35 people but we could only afford 21. In a way this is good, because our teaching relies on a participatory approach not conducive to large classes."  

The current program will culminate in an field study in Kompong Cham province, where the trainees will apply their new skills.