On Hold for Funds, Malaria Program Eyes Preventing Delays

 

August 21, 2003

Michelle Vachon

The Cambodia Daily

 

The malaria control program approved for funding by the Global Fund includes a plan to ensure that, in the future, villagers at high risk of malaria will be affected as little as possible by situations such as waiting for Global Fund to issue its disbursement.

 

This plan will consist of training three year types of village volunteers to educate others about the dangers of malaria whenever the National Malaria Center cannot fully run its activities and is left stocking bed nets while waiting for pledged funds.

 

One group of volunteers will handle bed nets, said Esther Sedano, malaria program adviser for Partners for Development. This will consist of training two people per village to take charge of bed net distribution and maintenance, she said.

 

The volunteers will also keep track of families who have received or need bed nets, will teach people to dip them insecticide and will let health centers know when nets or insecticide are required, Sendano said. She added that PFD will pilot the concept in Kratie province later this year.

 

The second group of village volunteers will teach their communities how malaria is transmitted through mosquito bites. The second group will also teach prevention methods, how to identify symptoms, and appropriate treatments. The goal will be to have one malaria-education person per 50 households, said Sedano.

 

The third group of volunteers will be trained to administer the basic dipstick test and distribute prepackaged medicine kits in remote villages that have little or no access to health centers, said Dr. Duong Socheat, director of the National Malaria Center. The center developed this concept last year in Ratanakiri and Koh Kong provinces with the support from the European Commission.

 

As soon as the Global Fund distributes this year's money out of the $9.9 million approved for five years, these programs will be launched and volunteers trained, Duong Socheat said.

 

In the meantime, PFD is distributing bed nets in Koh Kong province through support from the US Agency for International Development, with the hope of launching the bed net and health volunteer programs in the province early next year, Sedano said.

 

USAID, which has been running various health projects in Cambodia since 1992, bases its entire approach on involving volunteers and community leaders in programs, one of the goals being to "give people the skills and experience to control their destinies," said Joel Wallach who with his wife, Gale Metcalf, took over as co-directors of PFD this month.

 

This approach helps people become aware not only of their problems but also the assets they possess to solve them, Metcalf said.

 

Wallach, a psychologist specializing in community mental health, and Metcalf, a public health professional, came to Cambodia after working in Tanzania.