Malaria Center To Share Study Results at African Conference

August 22, 2002
By Michelle Vachon
The cambodia Daily

A Cambodian delegation will attend a conference on malaria in Africa in November to share results obtained from various programs with experts from around the world.

"A lot of techniques we have been developing here can be applied in African and other countries," said Sean Hewitt, malaria control specialist for the European Commission Malaria Control Project in Cambodia. In numerous areas, Cambodia is pioneering strategies that are of great interest to people in the field, he said.

The Third Multilateral Initiative on Malaria will take place in Arusha, Tanzania, from Nov 17 through Nov 22. Cambodia will make four presentations at the conference.

Two of them will be about the country's decision to work with both the private and public sectors so the disease can be diagnosed and treated without delay, Hewitt said.

"Cambodia is leading the way in this respect," he said.

The strategy has included training volunteers in remote villages that have little or no access to health centers so that uncomplicated cases can be diagnosed and treated as soon as symptoms appear, he said.

Volunteers in 36 villages in the northeast and 11 in Koh Kong province have participated in the program, which, undoubtedly, has saved lives, Hewitt said.

The volunteer program has been possible because the National Malaria Center, with the support of the EC, has developed and promoted the dipstick diagnosis, which takes minutes to produce results, and a combination of medicine for simple cases, pre-packaged in appropriate doses for simple cases.

These tools have been distributed both in the private and the public sectors in order to reduce fatalities by treating the disease early with the proper dosage of good-quality medicine.

At the conference, Cambodia will also present the results of a study on the effectiveness of mosquito nets treated with insecticide in reducing of malaria cases. This study is conducted by the malaria center with the support of the EC, and should be completed by the end of October.

Cambodia's fourth presentation will be one more study by the malaria center, Hewitt said.

Since last year, the center has been testing a promising new drug therapy for simple malaria cases, he said. Called Artekin II, the therapy was developed in China. In certain environments, malaria becomes resistant to medicine more rapidly than some other diseases, which makes it necessary to come up with new treatment every few years. This varies from country to country, but in this region, Cambodia as well as Burma face that problem, Hewitt said.

A team of Chinese medical researchers visited Cambodia last year to discuss with the malaria center this new treatment, which could cut by a third the cost of malaria therapy.