Netting Gains at the Frontline in Fight Against Malaria

Cambodia Daily distributes 2,632 mosquito nets in Pursat province

veal veng district, Pursat province – A mosquito net cannot bring back Thol Theavy’s daughter who died from malaria.

Ms Theavy, 40, remembers her 8-year-old daughter trembling when she got the disease ten years ago. At the time there was no doctor in the area to take care of her child and poor road conditions meant it was difficult to get help, Ms Theavy said.

“We did not have medicine or enough money to send her to the border” for treatment, Ms Theavy said, holding back tears.

Yet three mosquito nets picked up at Thma Da commune health clinic on Monday will hopefully protect her remaining six children, husband Ku Vuthy and herself.

Ms Theavy was one of 1,594 villagers from 417 families who received 1,132 nets distributed by The Cambodia Daily to Kandal, Sang Kumthhmey and Ek Apheap villages. Another 800 nets went to 1,344 villagers from 288 families in Dey Krahorm village in Anlong Reap commune and 700 more will be distributed in other malaria-endemic areas of the province in coming weeks.

“I’m deeply concerned about the sickness…. I’m very happy to get the mosquito nets because at the moment we do not have one at home,” Ms Theavy said, waiting by her son and a pile of nets at the distribution.

The couple put themselves at risk by farming in the forest where mosquitoes–which carry the disease–are likely to bite them. It is not the only danger in the heavily mined former Khmer Rouge stronghold, however, and Mr Vuthy lost his right leg in an explosion nine years ago.

Now the remote and densely forested area is one of the frontlines in Cambodia’s fight against malaria, said Duong Socheat, director of the National Malaria Center. It is only seven km from the Thai border, where migration contributes to the spread of the disease, he said before handing out mosquito nets to residents who cannot afford to buy them.

“The level of malaria is very high here that’s why it is the right place to come,” Dr Socheat said, noting that the area also has a low level of resistance to artemisinin–the main drug used to fight malaria.

From January to May this year public health facilities recorded 15,935 case and 31 deaths while Village Malaria Workers reported 14,281 and 7 deaths. Last year between January and May the center said there were 24,079 cases of malaria and 96 deaths at public health facilities.

It takes five hours along a pitted road to Pursat provincial hospital from Thma Da commune. The rainy season will lead to pools where mosquitoes can breed causing a spike in malaria, vice chief of the technical bureau at the Center Dr Soun Seila said.

“Prevalence is too high and it is a very poor and remote area. It is too from town to buy bed nets,” Dr Seila said.


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