Hill Tribe Villagers Tested For Malaria, Drug Resistance

plor village, Ratanakkiri prov­ince – Chom Mot doesn’t know if he has ever had malaria. And he isn’t sure if mosquitoes are what’s behind the fevers and chills from which he and his fellow ethnic Jarai hill tribe villagers sometimes suffer.

“Sometimes I go to the old man in the village,” he said. “Sometimes I go to the market to buy medicine. And sometimes I try ‘cupping’ to reduce my headache with a hot glass.”

However effective Chom Mot’s traditional and modern treatments have been for his malaria symptoms, he now uses a new, chemically treated bed net to ward off the mosquitoes that cause the malaria—which in turn cause the headaches, chills and fevers.

In mid-February, health workers from the National Malaria Center, the World Health Organi­zation and the Pasteur Institute of Cambodia came to Plor village to test villagers for malaria and for resistance to malaria drugs. They returned the next day to distribute bed nets to the villagers.

“Every year there are a lot of deaths in this district. It has a high prevalence,” said National Malaria Center Director Dr Duong Socheat.

Malaria is “by far the biggest problem” facing this remote northeastern province, according to Health Unlimited provincial project manager Christine Briasco.

Limited supplies of drugs, long distances between health centers, low incomes and a low level knowledge among the hill tribe villagers who make up the majority of the population make the fight against malaria difficult, she said.

But periodic distribution of mosquito bed nets, with the help of the National Malaria Center, the WHO and the European Union, in the province in the last few years has helped reduce the incidence of malaria, according to provincial health department official Eng Kunvuth.

National Malaria Center workers found 35 acute p falciparum cases in Plor village, which they treated with chloroquine and mefloquine. Villagers who were found to have a fever but tested negative on a dipstick test were given chloroquine.



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