US Donates Thousands of Mosquito Nets to Malaria Center

December 25, 2003
By Kate Woodsome
The Cambodia Daily

The National Malaria Center is enjoying a full stock of malaria nets this season, thanks to donations from the US military and private companies seeking to test new products in Cambodia, a Center official said Wednesday.

A humanitarian donation from the US Military, Pacific Command in the state of Hawaii, has boosted the Center's mosquito net reserves by 12,577 mosquito nets, a gift worth approximately $27,500, said National Malaria Center Director Dr Duong Socheat. That will bring the number of nets collected this year to more than 200,000.

Duong Socheat expressed gratitude for the gift, saying he was relieved that the good relations he enjoyed with the US Embassy's former military attache had carried over to a new administration.

"It is very kind to get that donation to provide the people protection in endemic areas," Duong Socheat said.
The Center will accept any donation but it prefers proven, high-quality nets. These are better able to protect families in remote areas for long periods of time.

"With the longer lasting net, there's no need to treat them with insecticide for three years," Duong Socheat said. "We can go and leave them in the remote or hard to access areas like Anlong Veng or Ratanakkiri."

He could not explain why some nets lasted longer than others, saying only that it involved the weaving process. But trial and error has proven that polyester makes the best nets, he said. They are lightweight and absorb anti-mosquito insecticide most effectively.

Cotton nets absorb too much insecticide and elicit complaints of being too hot. And nylon nets don't absorb any insecticide an agent that kills mosquitoes and discourages them from biting.

The Center plans to test two newly developed nets in the upcoming months, Duong Socheat said. The Holly Cotec company in Beijing has pledged 400 nets expected to last three years with a price tag of about $5 each to be used on a trial basis. Another 100 nets developed by Japan's Itochu company to last five years and cost about $7 also will be tested.

The nets will be used by recipients for a number of months before Center staff test them for durability and efficacy.

"We will go and see how many times we can wash the net, or how many mosquitoes come in the house," Duong Socheat said.

The donated nets are more expensive than the Center's normal stock, which is purchased from Vietnam or Thailand for between $1.80 and $3, Duong Socheat said. But they are an attractive product, as their fibers are pre-treated with insecticide before being sewn.