Local malaria organizations are hoping that the recent introduction of Malarine, a newly marketed malaria drug, to private medicine sellers in remote areas of Kampot province will help their cause of controlling the widespread disease.
The European Commission Malaria Control Program, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, is packaging the new drug—a combination of the existing medicines Mefloquine and Artesunate.
Ros Seyha, a co-director for the program responsible for marketing the drug, said Malarine is being distributed to private sellers because Cambodians living in remote areas prefer purchasing malaria medicine from them.
“It is a mechanism of controlling malaria in remote areas,” Seyha said.
For 9,000 riel ($2.37), a purple glossy packet of Malarine can be purchased, containing three once-a-day doses potent enough to rid a malaria-stricken person of the disease.
Ros Seyha defended the drug’s price, saying that an estimated 70 percent of people in remote areas can afford it.
“They usually will pay a couple of hundred riel for one or two [non-Malarine] tablets, and subsequently they will not be cured,” he said.
The distribution of Malarine is currently limited to Kampot province.
The market for Malarine is being tested with the distribution of 100 boxes, each containing 15 packets, to three private medicine retailers.
There are plans for expanded distribution to private sellers in Pursat and Battambang provinces next month.
If the product catches on in the three test provinces, it could eventually be distributed nationwide by the middle of 2001, said Mey Bouth Denis, co-director of the EC program.
Mey Bouth Denis said the greatest benefit of Malarine is that a patient gets the proper dose of medicine, with easy-to-read instructions.
“With this medicine, they get a cure for malaria,” he said.
Ros Seyha said if distribution does eventually reach all 10 provinces, he hopes it will continue after the EC’s malaria program finishes, scheduled for October of 2001.
Mey Bouth Denis also expressed his desire for the program to be extended in Cambodia for one more year, so there would be the opportunity to aid certain provinces that were deemed inaccessible at the start of the program because of such prohibitive obstacles as the Khmer Rouge.
He said any decision to extend the fledgling program one more year will be decided when the European Commission evaluates the performance of the program this September or October.
In addition to Cambodia, the EC program is also under way in Laos and Vietnam.