EC, Malaria Center To Sell Cheap Medicine Nationwide

March 7, 2002
By Brian Calvert
The Cambodia Daily

After successful tests showed that rural Cambodians were willing to pay a small amount for high quality malaria treatment, the European Commission and the National Malaria Center have now launched a full marketing scheme for medicine and test kits.
Around 95 percent of those who bought a new brand of medicine called Malarine to treat malaria in Battambang and Kampot provinces said they found it effective and would buy it again, according to a statement from the EC, which is supporting the malaria center for this project.

As many as 500,000 people in Cambodia each year contract falciparum malaria, a severe type of malaria that can lead to death. So the malaria center wants to see 100,000 Malarine packets available in pharmacies throughout the provinces by the end of this year, the EC statement said.

Malarine combines the drugs artesunate and melfloquine, making it highly effective against the malaria parasite, which in Cambodia has developed a resistance to other drugs.

"Malarine is the right treatment, as it is effective, affordable and will be easily accessible," said Roberto Garcia, co-director of the EC's malaria project in Cambodia, in a statement issued Tuesday for the official launch of the marketing project.
The cost of Malarine will be partly subsidized by the EC and malaria center. Profits will go into a revolving fund to produce more of the medicine and distribute it.

An easy-to-use test kit to detect malaria will also be available.

"Self-medication is common practice in Cambodia," said Mey Bouth Denis, the other co-director for the EC's project. "That is why we have introduced a rapid test for quick and accurate diagnosis of falciparum malaria."

"The rapid test will be available wherever Malarine is sold," he said. "Administered on the spot, it delivers accurate results within 15 minutes."

The Malarine and test kits will be advertised on television and radio. It will also be recommended by provincial health officials. The commercials will also inform Cambodians of the importance of diagnosis and testing, Garcia said.
Malaria, a disease borne by mosquitoes that bite at night, has become resistant to some drugs because the full dosages were not taken, strengthening the parasite instead of killing it.

Officials hope Malarine will be more effective because it shortens the dosage to three days.

"Often, malaria sufferers feel better after taking just one dose of the drug, but completion of the full three-day course of Malarine is the only way to guarantee a complete cure," Duong Socheat, director of the National Malaria Center, said in a statement.

Malarine will be available for 7,900 riel (about $2) for adults and 4,500 riel ($1.12) for children. The rapid test kit will cost 1,200 riel ($0.33).