A gang of supply vehicles arrived in Mondolkiri province on June 8 to issue 600 mosquito nets to villagers, furthering the National Malaria Center’s efforts to control the deadly parasite.
Among the contingent were workers from the center, the European Union, and Ung Phirum, secretary of state for the Ministry of Health. From the captal, Sen Monorom, they traveled about 25 km to the remote villages of Oraeng, Pou Loung, and Sra An Poum.
Blood samples were also taken from the villagers so that relief workers could determine the severity of malaria there. Blood tests also determine what kind of malaria they might have.
The number of malaria cases in Mondolkiri province rose from 6,130 in 1998 to 8,885 in 1999, according to the center’s 1999 annual report.
Roberto Garcia, national co-director of the EU’s Malaria Control program, has distributed supplies to many regions of the country since he arrived in February. He said people in remote areas are more susceptible to the parasite.
“Transmission of the malaria parasite is at a very high risk there [Mondolkiri],” Garcia said.
Mondolkiri has an estimated population of 32,000, making it the least populated Cambodian province. The group also delivered malaria-testing dipsticks, insecticide to soak mosquito nets, and medicine.
The trip was about more than delivering supplies and taking blood samples, Garcia said. It was also about educating the villagers about how the disease is transmitted.
Garcia explained that not all villagers with malaria understand that they received it from a mosquito bite. Many of them believe they were possessed by a spirit after returning from the jungle.
The village of Oraeng is so obscure, 90 percent do not get treated for the disease at a proper medical facility, so they rely heavily on individual dealers for medicine which is not that repliable, Garcia said.
“We have to be very careful on fake drugs.” he said. “Sometimes the quality of drug is low.”
The EU’s Malaria Control program began in Cambodia in 1998.
“The project will continue until the end of next year,” Garcia said. “but we hope it’s going to be longer.”