Challenges in Fight Against Malaria Discussed at Conference
By Michelle Vachon
December 6, 2001
The Cambodia Daily
They gathered for the sixth quarterly meeting of the
Malaria Control Project, funded by the European Union, to discuss the situation
in Cambodia and next years plan to fight the disease.
Although indications are that the combined efforts of
international organizations, NGOs, the National Malaria Center and the Ministry
of Health have reduced the number of cases this year, participants at the
three-day meeting spent no time congratulating each other. They instead
discussed upcoming challenges.
The first working session concerned three projects to
give people in remote areas information on how to combat the disease.
One project involves 38 villages in Ratanakkiri
province. A study started in April showed that malaria remains rampant and
children younger than 5 often die of the disease, said Sean Hewitt, malaria
control specialist for the EU project. Researchers found that in some tribes,
people dont seek health care—they accept that children die, he said.
Researchers used villagers as malaria workers. The
villagers were trained to detect symptoms, use a simple test to check for the
disease, distribute emergency medicine and know when to refer a patient to the
nearest medical facility, Hewitt said.
Village workers do not handle medicine usually
administered by health professionals. They will use a simplified treatment with
artesunate suppositories and mefloquine tablets.
This approach is meant to complement medical services,
not replace them, Hewitt said. Its just for hot spots such as remote border
areas with little or no access to health care, Hewitt said.
The second project focuses on the ethnic Phnong
population of Mondolkiri province, with whom the French NGO Nomad is conducting
health education and malaria control programs.
Nomad also is recruiting villagers as malaria workers,
said Kate Hencher, health education supervisor. In addition, the NGO plans to
have local performers stage short skits on malaria and other health issues. The
skits will be turned into videos to be shown in Phnong villages, Hencher said.
The project began about a year ago with Sylvain Vogel
and Jean-Michel Filippi, respectively professors of linguistics and of phonetics
at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, devising a method for health workers to
learn Phnong, a language that has no written form. The kit includes cassettes
and a section on Phnong culture, values and beliefs.
Oum Chenda, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Womens and Veterans Affairs, talked about a project launched last month in the Oral and Phnom Sruoch districts of Kompong Speu province. Female volunteers are being enrolled to help reduce malaria in their communities.
Culturally, women take care of the household and of
family members health, Oum Chenda said. Their opinion is respected in health