Provincial health officials last week asked the European Union to continue its support of the Malaria Control Project, which is due to end in 12 months.
They submitted their request on the last day of the project’s sixth quarterly meeting, held in Phnom Penh on Dec 4-6.
“With the [EU] support of the project, we observed that malaria control program’s activities at the provincial level have remarkably improved,” health department representatives from the 16 provinces most affected by malaria wrote in a joint letter. But such results take time and energy, and while 10 provinces have been involved in the project for a few years, six others just joined it. Health departments would lack the resources to fill the gap if the EU ended its technical and financial support this soon, the provincial officials wrote.
Ministry of Health Secretary of State Mam Bun Heng also appealed to the EU to renew its support. Launched in 1997, the Cambodian Malaria Control Project has already been extended nearly 16 months, said Frederick Gay, the EU malaria control program coordinator for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The usual procedure would be for the EU to focus on another health issue once this project ends, he said.
The sixth quarterly meeting was an example of the approach Cambodia developed in the course of the project, showing how government, NGOs and international organizations work in concert. With the help of the EU, provincial health departments had prepared quarterly and 2002 programs that included objectives, activities, budgets and inventories down to computer keyboards and phones, said Roberto Garcia, co-director of the EU malaria control project.
These programs are meant to serve as master plans for health officials, NGOs and international organizations’ activities in each province, he said. Most organizations involved in malaria control attended the quarterly meeting, and met with provincial health officials to discuss goals and their respective contributions.
These programs are part of the five-year strategy developed by the National Malaria Center.
Ministry of Health data, while incomplete for 2001, indicates that new cases of malaria dropped by nearly one-third in Pursat province and by more than 40 percent in Pailin compared to 2000. Such results are due to the support of the EU, the World Bank and the World Health Organization, and to the combined efforts of government and NGOs, said Duong Socheat, National Malaria Center director.
During the meetings, participants talked about the need to detect and treat patients quickly in order to reduce fatal cases of malaria. Among objectives for 2002, said Mey Bouth Denis, national co-director of the EU malaria control project, are the improvement of malaria control services for the military.