The Red Cross has donated 30,000 mosquito nets to the National Malaria Center as part of ongoing efforts to provide relief from this year’s devastating floods.
But while that number seems large, it is dwarfed in comparison to the number of nets needed.
“The nets are a never-ending story,” said Dr Stefan Hoyer, malaria expert for the World Health Organization, “because they break down and new people move into malaria areas.”
To provide total coverage to people living or working in forested malaria areas, the Ministry of Health would need 250,000 nets, Hoyer said. On top of that, about 30 percent of the nets need to be replaced yearly.
So far this year, the Red Cross has provided 60,000 nets and 7,400 liters of insecticide to impregnate them. While substantial, the donations actually would not cover the total number of replacement nets required.
Still, the nets will be quickly used by malaria directors in the provinces. The first donation of 60,000 nets from the International and Cambodian Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was used up within three months, said Dr Duong Socheat, director of the malaria center.
“We will distribute these [recent] nets to the western provinces…according to requests from the provinces,” he said.
Many provinces were battered by the worst flooding of the Mekong in at least 40 years. Thousands of houses were destroyed, displacing large populations who headed for higher ground.
An emergency relief operation was launched in September. Both sets of net donations by the Red Cross were a part of that operation. Mosquitoes that carry malaria live in the wooded highlands, and refugees fleeing the water were put right in their path.
Instant refugee villages appeared. Not only did the nets provide relief from the mosquitoes in the forests, they also provided a bit of privacy and peace of mind for the refugees.
The most recent Red Cross donation came from funding provided by the European Community Humanitarian Office, and the Australian Government.