Pursat Villagers Receive 2,440 Mosquito Nets

phnom kravanh district, Pursat province – As villagers will tell you, the name Pursat comes from the legend of a dying po tree that made its way upriver only to cling to land, take root and flourish on the fertile lands of modern day Pursat province. So it is no surprise that, years later, the area now famous for its water resources would be a popular destination for disease-bearing mosquitoes.

According to Pursat health de­partment officials, the province last year saw 5,930 cases of malaria with eight deaths, but thanks to increasing prevention methods, including insecticide-doused bed nets, medical centers and information seminars, the number so far this year has been reduced to 3,237 cases and two deaths.

“The number is dwindling due to the villagers’ better understanding of malaria, cover from mos­­quito nets and the 32 health care centers we now have to mon­itor their health in case of in­fection,” said Ke Kimmen, head of the Pursat health department’s anti-malaria program.

“The area most affected is Phnom Kravanh district near the Thai border, because it has thick forests and is where mosquitoes breed,” she added.

To help combat the disease, the National Malaria Center and local health officials, in collaboration with The Cambodia Daily Mos­quito Net Campaign, were on hand Saturday morning in Phnom Kravanh’s Leach commune to distribute 2,440 treated mosquito nets to 574 families.

About 2,000 villagers from Leach commune’s Pen and Sbov Rik villages sat and listened as the Leach Health Center demonstrated how the nets were treated and the importance of using them in day-to-day life.

Sbov Rik village’s Roeun Sok, 42, who received nine nets, said she was happy she could now protect herself and her eight children from the disease that has continually plagued her family.

“We have been infected with malaria several times now, and luckily nobody has died since we have access to good treatment,” she said. “Because of these nets, our villagers can feel safer when we go to sleep, that we have better sanitation to protect us.”

“Today, I am very happy to have joined, and received bed nets from the malaria center,” said another villager from Pen village, 36-year-old Chhun Ya, who brought home seven nets for her family. “Without proper protection of the nets, one of my family may die.”

Although medical officials be­lieve they are making headway in malaria prevention, more outreach is still needed. Earlier this month, the National Malaria Center discovered nearly 200 workers in a forest in Veal Veng district’s Pra­moy commune, all of whom were unprotected in a high-risk area.

“Workers will move into these areas because private companies will send them,” said Duong Socheat, director of the National Malaria Center. “We have been monitoring them, giving them blood tests and giving them bed nets to protect themselves.”

From January to October this year, the number of deaths in Cam­bodia due to malaria has dropped by about two-thirds, from 217 to 73, compared with the same period last year, according to NMC. Similarly, there were 61,853 recorded cases of malaria for the same period last year, compared to just 37,219 in 2010, about a 40 percent drop.

“Next year, we are confident we can continue to contain the disease,” said Dr Socheat. “We have the funds to combat it, and we will continue training health officials.”

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