Cambodia is on track to achieve its goal of eliminating all forms of malaria by 2025, thanks to years of dedicated efforts by the country’s health leadership, international partners, local organizations, and others.
Credit also is due to dedicated Cambodians such as Soa Kimheng, 44, who is making a difference one village at a time through malaria education and prevention. Kimheng is one of 35 village focus points for malaria areas supported by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) through the USAID Cambodia Malaria Elimination Project 2 (CMEP2).
Malaria Elimination Requires Vigilance
CMEP2 – implemented by URC – works with the Cambodia National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control and malaria elimination partners to develop and successfully implement a malaria elimination strategy aligned with Cambodia’s malaria elimination action framework. CMEP2 provides support in six Cambodian provinces covering 14 operational districts.
Challenges to malaria elimination remain, including:
- A high proportion of malaria transmission through outdoor-biting vectors in hard-to-reach populations in remote areas;
- The ongoing threat of drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum; and
- Challenges in treating Plasmodium vivax, including getting people to take the full 14-day course of medication and dealing with medication side effects.
Therefore, malaria elimination in Cambodia must plan for the prevention of reintroduction of malaria in the areas where malaria has been eliminated. That’s where Kimheng and others help.
Education is a Key Part of the Solution
In January 2023, Kimheng was chosen by the people of Chomnob Sbovlpleang Village – located in the Maung Russie Operational District, Battambang Province – and its Prey Trolach Health Center as a local contact point to work with the village chief and the village malaria worker to promote malaria prevention and healthcare-seeking behaviors.
He was well-known in the community by the health workers and local authorities because he was a mobile migrant worker himself. Therefore, he understands their challenges.
In Thmar Andet Point – population 160 – part of Chomnob Sbovlpleang Village, Kimheng educates mobile migrant populations about the dangers of malaria, the importance of seeking treatment, signs and symptoms of malaria, and preventive practices such as sleeping under a bed net.
Kimheng believes that health education for malaria elimination is critical – especially among high-risk populations and migrant people in his village.
Since Kimheng began his new role, he has mobilized migrant and mobile people in his village and conducted malaria health education talks and household outreach. In less than three months, Kimheng reached 56 people, including 12 people with suspected malaria cases. Then he referred them to the village malaria worker.
In addition, he identified 50 households without bed nets, assisted each with bed net distribution, and followed up to make sure the bed nets were being used properly.
Kimheng is proud of his contribution and how he is helping people to prevent malaria. If malaria elimination is achieved and maintained, his villagers will have more time to work and earn more money to support their families.