NGO To Battle Malaria in Rural Cambodia With Video Unit

Anti-malaria education will soon be coming to the big screen, playing in a remote location, near you.

Later this year, Population Services International will roll out its first anti-malaria mobile video unit, a four-wheel drive vehicle equipped with a bevy of audiovisual equipment including DVD and VCD players, tape decks and a theater-sized movie screen, as well as a generator.

Manned by a driver and a deejay, the unit will travel to remote and hard-to-reach locations, to educate at-risk populations on how to protect themselves from malaria and advertise the Malarine-brand anti-malaria drug.

“The idea is to bring multi-media ‘enter-education’ to places not served by mass media,” said Jacqueline Devine, deputy country representative at PSI.

The unit will target mobile populations, which are particularly at risk of malaria, Devine said. The malaria unit is the second foray into mobile entertainment for PSI, an NGO that markets health products at subsidized prices. A mobile unit aimed at HIV and AIDS education was launched in July.

The video unit is one of the activities PSI has planned to implement with money from the Global Fund’s second round. Devine, however, declined to say how much the mobile video unit project would cost.

With the Global Fund’s release in late January of money from its second round of grants, recipients are beginning to implement their proposed projects.

The National Malaria Center, PSI, Partners for Development and Health Unlimited will share the $2.7 million Cambodia is slated to receive over the next two years to fight malaria, Seshu Babu, an adviser to NMC, said Wednesday.

The first $900,000 arrived in late January from the Global Fund, an independent financial body supported by international donors that grants money for programs on HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

PSI will also use round-two funds to expand its advertisement of Malarine, a three-day anti-malaria treatment. PSI took over distribution of the drug from the NMC in early 2003, Devine said, but lacked the funds to market the existing supply.

More than 385 pharmacists and doctors have been trained to administer dipstick diagnostic tests for malaria and offer counseling on correct use of the drug since PSI took over the project, according to a statement from the organization.

Meanwhile, NMC officials are preparing for the center’s annual conference, which will be held on Tuesday, NMC director Duong Socheat said Wednesday.

Officials from NMC, provincial malaria centers and NGOs will convene in Phnom Penh to update their counterparts on the year’s activities and coordinate their plans for next year, he said.


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