Tam Tam and Nakkroupette Characters Take On Malaria

December 20, 2001
By Michelle Vachon
The Cambodia Daily

Primary school students in 17 Cambodian districts are about to meet the well-known Khmer cartoon character Tam Tam's new friends Dr Nakkroupette and Tom. While visiting Tom's home in Samlot district, Battambang province, Dr Nakkroupette will tell them about malaria prevention and treatment.

She will explain that people don't get fevers because the spirits are angry. Malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes, causes the fever, and people who catch it must get medical treatment without delay.

Tam Tam's adventure takes place within the pages of a Khmer cartoon book as part of a prevention campaign that will be conducted in schools in January.

Through the book, students learn how to prevent malaria, one of the country's No 1 killers, by sleeping under bednets to avoid the mosquitos that carry it.

The campaign was conceived by the Cambodia Malaria Control Project, which is funded by the European Commission, in cooperation with the National Malaria Center. It was developed by numerous ministries and NGOs, and implemented by a team of the Ministry of Education.

"In order to do good prevention work, one must educate people very young," said Roberto Garcia, European co-director of the Malaria Control Project. They need to know how to protect themselves before they start working in areas infested by mosquitoes, he said.

Campaign organizers decided to concentrate their efforts in the 17 districts with the highest number of malaria cases. Sipar, the French NGO that specializes in book publishing and the creation of libraries, was contracted to distribute the books.
With only 22,500 copies for nearly 213,000 students, a well-planned strategy was needed to make the most of the resources available, said Beatrice Montariol, Sipar co-coordinator.

In January, teachers will use the books to explain the symptoms and treatment of malaria, said Eam Onn of the training department at the Ministry of Education.

The Khmer-language newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea is also running Tam Tam's malaria story in 13 episodes this month.
On Dec 10, the technical team started training 65 teachers who, in turn, will train 3,800 teachers in their districts by the end of this month, Eam Onn said.

During the first two weeks of January, these teachers will hold six one-hour sessions on the book, during which they will talk about symptoms and treatment of malaria, and the need to use mosquito nets.

There also will be a drawing contest and a quiz with prizes given towards the end of February, Garcia said.
In addition to distribution of the book in schools, the Khmer newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea is running Tam Tam's malaria story in 13 episodes this month.

"Local School Makes Significant Donation ". For mosquito net donations, 2001 could well be called the Year of the Schoolchildren. Donations have come from schools as far away as the US, and as close as Phnom Penh. This week, the Student Council of Northbridge International School Cambodia added their names to the list of generous, responsible youths. "The Student Council...is pleased to present a gift of $100 to the Cambodia Daily Mosquito Net Campaign,"the students said in a letter. "The money was raised from student donations to bake sales at the school. In the future, the NISC Student Council will continue to be supportive of such worthwhile charities as the Mosquito Net Campaign."The money will provide 20 nets, enough for 60 villagers who live in malaria-prone areas.
(Brian Calvert)