New Group Will Coordinate Gov't, NGO Work on Malaria

August 6, 2003
By Alex Halperin
The Cambodia Daily

A new coordinating group aims to address malaria prevention and education to make the work of the government and NGOs more efficient in these areas, the organization's chairman said.

According to its literature, The Society for Malaria Control in Cambodia will work with the government, donors and independent organizations. Fighting the disease, it states, requires flexibility, accessible funding and vigilance.

"These are not very well facilitated if the program works within a strictly government structure," the society says.

Chairman and founder Dr Duong Socheat, who is also director of the Ministry of Health's National Malaria Center, said he envisions the society providing bed nets and teaching how to recognize symptoms.

"People [in remote areas] lack this knowledge," he said.

The society will not get involved in medical treatment, he said, which is the responsibility of provincial health professionals.
Society members will include the government, major international organizations and donors. NGOs working with malaria will be able to apply for membership.

Duong Socheat said workers receiving only government pay lack the incentive to work as hard as fighting malaria requires. "They just complete their hours and go back home to work at private businesses," he said. "How can you expect them to do good work?"

The society will counter this malaise by hiring Cambodian staff but paying them more than the government does, but he admitted that nobody knows yet who will pay for the society's activities.

The society registered with the Ministry of Interior on July 23. Duong Socheat said they are now trying to get funding from donors, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the WHO.

He said they expect to submit a proposal requesting $1.75 million over two years to the Global Fund in September. The fund has already pledged almost $10 million to Cambodia for malaria, which could be delivered as early as the next few months, when efforts begin to kill mosquitoes before next year's rainy season.

Global Fund officials did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment on how the society would be considered for funding.
WHO medical officer Dr Kim Yadany Sovann said Tuesday that the society will not receive funding immediately from the WHO but did not rule out the possibility.

Dr Seshu Babu, a malaria consultant for the Global Fund, said that while the society's mission and capabilities were still vague, it represented a positive development for addressing the disease.

"People have been doing things separately and this is a way to standardize the process," he said.
It represented a move toward eliminating overlap, he added.