koh rong, Koh Kong province – On this remote island paradise two hours by boat from Sihanoukville, the beaches are white and the water clear blue. But the villagers in these scenic fishing villages are dying from a preventable disease: malaria.
In the small village of Ba Nyo, population 228, 13 have died of malaria since January. Of 102 people tested by representatives from the National Malaria Center last week, 48 tested positive for malaria and were treated with mefloquine and chloroquine.
Malaria went out of control here, said Dr Duong Socheat, vice director of the National Malaria Center—the village is surrounded by woods, medical facilities do not exist and few people have good mosquito nets. “Transportation costs are too high for the villagers to get medical treatment and nets,” he said.
In this southwestern province, 1997 reported malaria cases are up from the year before. Malaria is up 60 percent nationwide, the National Malaria Center’s annual report said.
In Ba Nyo, a local villager, Kat Em, said two people in her small family of five were sick with malaria. With a few quiet words, the 43-year-old woman pushed her two cousins, their foreheads covered with the white patches thought to help fever, into the throng of villagers surrounding staff from the National Malaria Center.
Kat Em said she only had one mosquito net and it was just big enough for herself and her two children. Her two sick cousins slept in hammocks without nets when they were exposed to mosquitoes carrying malaria.
Kat Em’s relatives tested positive for malaria and received medical treatment.
Staff tested people’s blood and distributed mosquito nets from The Cambodia Daily Mosquito Net Campaign and explained to villagers how to use the nets.
Cambodia Daily staffers distributed 1,200 nets to three villages on the island of Koh Rong.
The National Malaria Center intends to distribute more nets to other islands and areas where they hear of reports of transmission like the village of Ba Nyo.