Saving Lives From a Tiny Killer One Net at a Time in Kampot

By Tim Sturrock

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Cambodia Daily

 

Photo by Tim Sturrock/The Cambodia Daily Marc Gold hands out mosquito nets to villagers in Kampot Province

Kampot province - Aside from the smiles of the people in Kampot district's Dong village as they received mosquito nets last week, Marc Gold said there was something else that motivated him to raise money for the needy.
 

"If you imagine any of those faces sick and dying of malaria and imagine preventing it.... That's a fantastic feeling," said Gold, a 58-year-old psychology and public health instructor in California.
 

And so last week Gold traveled to Dong, a village surrounded by rice fields in Stung Keo commune, along with members of the National Malaria Center to distribute 330 mosquito nets.
 

Gold said that he has been interested in malaria for some time, and after learning about The Cambodia Daily Mosquito Net Campaign he decided to donate money from his charity the 100 Friends Project.
 

The 100 Friends Project donated 200 nets that were handed out along with another 130 nets from the Mosquito Net Campaign in Dong village. A further 470 nets from the campaign were also distributed in Anlong Markprang village, according to the NMC.
 

"[Malaria's] killed over 200 million people in the last 100 years," Gold said. "It kills a lot of children."
 

In Cambodia about 100,000 were infected with malaria in 2006, compared to about 74,000 in 2005, an increase that some attributed to heavy rains last year.

Sixty-four people died of malaria in the first six months of this year, compared to 121 in the first six months of 2006, according to the NMC.
 

One Dong villager Vun Nim, 45, said he felt responsible for his wife's malaria infection several months ago. The mosquito net his family, including his two children, used had become so tattered that it could not be mended and was no protection from mosquitoes.
 

Vun Nim said he couldn't afford the few dollars it would have taken to buy another net. Though his wife recovered from the disease he was still worried over the last few months that another member of his family might contract the disease.
 

Dr Duong Socheat, NMC director, said that public education programs have gone a long way toward preventing the disease in Cambodia but mosquito nets are a huge part of the prevention effort.
 

There's also an economic impact to preventing malaria, Duong Socheat said, explaining that people who stay healthy won't lose money by missing work because of the illness.
 

Gold said that simply donating money wasn't enough and that he wanted to actually see the villages receiving his nets.
 

"If one person doesn't get malaria because of today that's great," Gold said during the net distribution. "It's something bad that didn't happen."