Donated Boats Will Help Malaria Teams in Remote Areas

By Brian Calvert
The Cambodia Daily

The European Commission's malaria program will donate boats to provincial malaria centers across the country to help health workers in remote, aquatic environments reach victims of malaria, officials said Wednesday.

In a handover ceremony today, the EC's office for malaria control will give six speedboats to provincial malaria offices in Koh Kong, Kampot, Kompong Thom, Kratie and Ratanakkiri provinces, said Professor Mey Bouth Denis, co-director for the program. Koh Kong will receive two boats, one for Koh Kong island and one for Sre Ambel district.

Requests were made last year by provincial officials, who were having difficulty testing and treating for malaria in regions that were often accessible only via water routes, Mey Bouth Denis said.

In Koh Kong and Kampot provinces, the coasts are dotted with many small fishing villages that remain malaria-prone because they are so close to coastal forests, .

The mosquitoes that carry malaria live in dark forests and require shade and clear water for breeding. However, those same mosquitoes can fly as far as two km in search of food.

In Kompong Thom, Kratie and Ratanakkiri provinces, many people have settled in areas were road conditions are very poor, and often impassable during the rainy season, Mey Bouth Denis said.

In Kratie province, there are villages situated along the Mekong River that may not even have roads leading to them, he said. Malaria prevention would be nearly impossible and very expensive in those areas.

May Bouth Denis said the boats can also be used as water ambulances, thus helping provincial health workers fight diseases other than malaria.

Similar needs occur in Ratanakkiri province, where boats will be used to move health staff along several rivers.

The San and Sre Pok rivers can be especially useful as waterways in a province where the road network is still very primitive.
The boats are being handed over directly to provincial officials, following the EC's principles of decentralization at every level, Mey Bouth Denis said.

Dr Mam Bun Heng, secretary of state for the Ministry of Health, welcomed the new boats.
"This is quite a need for our staff. In some places we can use the boats...for the district teams to supervise [projects] or distribute mosquito nets. For campaigns we need regular supervision," Mam Bun Heng said.