Friday, October 21, 2011

A malaria volunteer in Kirirom

by Katherine Parker

I just got back from a three day visit to a remote part of Kampong Speu province... actually one of the few "mountain" regions of the country. It was a lovely visit and the countryside is just gorgeous. This is the third month for us to be working with a new cluster of churches in this region. And so, on this visit I traveled out to actually meet with community members at their village - rather than just with church leaders at a central location for the cluster.

One of the joys of meeting people in their home place is finding out small ways that individuals are living out their Christian service to their community. As is true for church members in the US and around the world, people of faith in Cambodia are active in their communities and partnering with various local initiatives to improve lives. Many church members are very active in health care ministry, especially accompanying neighbors to the local clinic or farther afield to the provincial referral hospital. CHAD provides orientation to this kind of service through our Good Samaritan training program. But our training really just builds on what folks are already doing in their communities.

The first night of this trip I spent at the house of the pastor of the Kirirom church, and learned about an example of health outreach being done by the pastor's wife.  His wife is the local malaria control volunteer. This region has particularly high incidence of malaria because many people get their livlihood from going into the forest (mostly to cut wood) and this is breeding ground for mosquitoes.  Because it is cool and damp under the trees the malaria mosquitoes are also more active.

She has been trained by the government's Ministry of Health in partnership with USAID in a simple chemical-blood test for the malaria parasite and how to prescribe the correct dosage of medicine according to age, size, etc. for those who test positive.  She showed us her records over the last 2 years and the growing awareness of people in her village about malaria indicated by the increased number of people who come for testing each month.  The malaria medication is provided for free to those who test positive.  She has also had some training in women's reproductive health and provides birth control and/or iron supplements to women in the village who would like those options for about $0.25 per month.  She receives an honorarium of $17 per month for this work.

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