EC Malaria Project Winds Down With Pair of Conferences
By Michelle Vachon
The Cambodia Daily
Siem Reap this month is hosting two malaria conferences that will focus on current policies and their success in controlling the disease not only in Cambodia, but throughout Southeast Asia. The conferences will mark the end of the European Commission's five-year program to curb malaria in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
On Saturday, Cambodian health representatives from the 16 provinces most affected by malaria will take part in the Seventh Provincial Quarterly Workshop. The three-day meeting is organized by the European Commission Cambodia Malaria Control Project in cooperation with National Malaria Center.
Health representatives will both report on their activities and submit their plans for the coming year, said Dr Duong Socheat, director of the National Malaria Center. This will enable people involved in malaria control to link activities to progress made in order to identify the most effective approaches to fight the disease, said Roberto Garcia, European co-director of the EC malaria project.
Activities supported by the EC were launched in 2000, after about two years of preparation, he said. Their success has made "Cambodia a leader in terms of strategies and implementation" among malaria-prone countries, Garcia said.
Cambodia's success is due to the fact that once a strategy such as combination-drug treatment is identified, the Ministry of Health quickly endorses it and makes the medicine available without delay, he said. Cambodia was mentioned numerous times at the international malaria convention held in Tanzania last month, Garcia said
The second conference, which will be held from Dec 10 through Dec 14, will involve participants from 24 countries. The Mekong Malaria Symposium is organized by the EC Malaria Control Program in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam with the support of health officials in these three countries.
Discussions will focus on practical ways to control the disease, unlike most conferences that concentrate on research and medical advances, said Frederick Gay, the EC program regional coordinator. Topics will include the effectiveness of bednets treated with insecticide, distribution of medicine, public information and community participation.
The goal of the symposium is to enable people from various countries to compare programs and leave with new ideas on how to control malaria, Gay said. In one of their presentations, Cambodian representatives will explain the success obtained by distributing drug therapy in the private and public sectors, Duong Socheat said.
With the EC project ending this month, the malaria program will be left without funding in Cambodia. The government already has submitted a series of proposals to the World Bank and to the UN Global Fund, and is now waiting for responses, Duong Socheat said. Among other strategies, the National Malaria Center would like to continue its volunteer worker program in remote areas.