CONTAINMENT

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Posts Tagged ‘communication

Cambodian Daughter Brings Music and Malaria Messages to Hometown

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CONTAINMENT’s Moeun Chhean Nariddh caught up with Dengue Fever’s Chhom Nimol in Battambang.

Chhom Nimol endorsing a poster urging Cambodians to visit a Village Malaria Worker or the nearest health centre if they have fever. Pix by WHO/sonny krishnan

Oh, oh, oh, Chumno kadeuk oi own neuk srok, neuk dol yeay ta, mingmear, pa’own bong…Yeung thloip roth leng trosorng, eilov nuon la’orng khleath tov sen chhnay. Oh, oh, oh…

“Oh, oh, oh, winter breeze makes me miss my home town, miss my grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. We used to go for a walk together, but now I am far away from you. Oh, oh, oh…”

Cambodian singer Chhom Nimol of the Dengue Fever begins to sing the first few lines of her newly recorded song “Uku without music at the request of a journalist from in the studio of Battambang’s National Radio of Kampuchea before her scheduled performance in the evening.

“I used to have malaria in the refugee camp … I was shivering and it was hard for me to endure the fever and chills…”

With or without music, her voice can easily draw attention from the keen audience and listeners through sound waves that travels hundreds of kilometers away from the studio and the open-air live concert.

What makes her performance in Battambang special is that the sound waves not only carry her beautiful voice to the audience, but they also bring along messages about malaria to many people most at risk of getting the disease in remote areas along Cambodia’s common border with Thailand.

Dengue Fever at the free open-air concert in Battambang. Pix by WHO/sonny krishnan

On November 16, Nimol was giving her third performance in Cambodia to Battambang after Kampot and Siem Reap provinces as the front-lady for the Dengue Fever band – a popular US west coast Khmer-American psychedelic rock band. Dengue Fever’s trip to the Mekong region is sponsored by the US Embassy to bridge cultural ties between Cambodia and the United States.

Noting the important occasion and the popularity of the music band, USAID-funded University Research Co., LLC, or URC, had approached the music concert organizers and asked for malaria messages to be read during the event.

“This is a very rare occasion that the Dengue Fever has come to perform in Battambang,” said Kharn Lina, URC’s communications specialist. “Many people in the audience who watched the performance might be working in the malaria-affected areas and could take the messages back to their relatives and friends.”

She said that the recent floods in Cambodia made it even more crucial for people to get enough information and knowledge about how to protect themselves and to get treatment for malaria since there could be more mosquitoes that transmitted the disease to people.

For Nimol, malaria is an illness that will always stay in her mind.

“I used to have malaria in the refugee camp,” she recalls. “I was shivering and it was hard for me to endure the fever and chills when I was young.”

She said it was very important that people sleep in insecticide treated nets so that they could protect themselves from getting malaria.

Nimol said she had spent one year with her family in the refugee camp on the border with Thailand before returning to Battambang in 1992, to resume her education at junior high school level. Cambodia then was under the administration of the United Nations following the end of a 12-year proxy-civil war where battlelines were drawn on then Cold War rivalries. After three years, she said she went to Phnom Penh and continued her studies for another two years.

With encouragement from Chhom Chorvin, her elder sister who was also a singer, Nimol said she started to learn to sing old songs from the 1960s and 1970s by the late Cambodian singers.

Though she was a new singer, Nimol’s voice hadn’t gone unnoticed.

In 1997, she said she decided to register in a song contest organized by Apsara TV in Phnom Penh and won first prize as the best female singer.

She was 16 years old then.

In 2001, she went to the United States and performed at a Cambodian restaurant in Long Beach with her elder sister.

Then, her golden opportunity arrived.

Nimol said Dengue Fever was looking for Cambodian singers at different restaurants in California and they finally came to the Dragon House Restaurant, where she was singing.

“[Dengue Fever] became interested in my voice and body movements,” she said with a smile.

Dengue Fever then invited her to join the band.

In addition to the old songs and music, Nimol said she had also composed new songs like “Uku” herself with help from her American band-mates who composed the music.

“I just do ‘noy, noy, noy’ and they will come up with the music,” she said.

Nimol said she had performed in many countries in Europe apart from the US. However, she said her chance to return and perform in Battambang was just like a dream.

“For me, I am very happy. I just can’t tell you how excited I am,” she said as the cool dry wind started to blow outside, signalling a change in the usual hot humid weather.

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Written by malariacontainment

November 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Community Malaria Workers Use SMS to Report in Real-Time

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Malaria Consortium’s Ngor Pengby demonstrating how to charge a mobile phone using a solar panel. This project is in collaboration with Mobitel.Photo by WHO/Moeun Chhean Nariddh

Moeun Chhean Nariddh reports on a mobile phone-based frontline reporting system for detected malaria cases, implemented in Kampot province.

From her house in Snay Anchit Village, about five kilometers from the health center in Kampot provonce’s Chum Kiri district, 20-year-old village malaria worker Kong Lida can clearly hear the noise of a generator roaring in the distance. This generator is an important source of power where Lida and other villagers have their car batteries charged everyday so that their houses can be lit up at night from electric lamps and at the same time charge up their mobile phones.

But soon Lida and other village malaria workers in her village and other communes will not need to pay the generator owner to have their car batteries charged anymore. Now, all these VMWs will get their power from a ubiquitous source of energy – namely solar power.

As part of the country’s malaria elimination strategy, the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control or CNM, with technical support from Malaria Consortium (MC) and WHO, has launched a pilot program to train VMWs in Kampot, Siem Reap and Kampong Cham provinces on how to send simple mobile phone text messages (SMS) to report in real time on detected malaria cases. These SMS messages also support the paper reporting that feeds into the health information system from the health centers.

CNM and MC also provide each of the VMWs with a solar panel and a lamp together with a mobile phone and a charger since there is no electricity in their villages.

The SMS from a village malaria worker in Khmer script. Photo by Malaria Consortium/Steve Mellor

Cambodia is currently seeing a revolution in communications with the roll-out of affordable wireless services to much of the rural population. The potential of approaches based on mobile phones and web-based technology to address the gaps in field data collection for malaria is now widely recognized.

“I think using a mobile phone is good, because I can report immediately when I come across a malaria case,” said village malaria worker Lida. Previously, the VMWs would record the data in a logbook which they would then report to the health centers at the end of every month before it was sent to the operational district hospitals and finally to CNM.

InSTEDD, an innovative humanitarian technology NGO, designed the system, utilizing SMS messages in Khmer script that interact with mapping software to generate maps on the World Wide Web for the locations of malaria cases reported by the VMWs. These malaria cases are also known as Day Zero cases, to indicate the locations of the patients before they are given appropriate and effective treatment.

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Radio Program in Chantaburi Offers Life-Saving Advice on Malaria Prevention

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The ‘Love Your Health’ radio program hosted by the head of the Malaria Clinic in Khaeng Harng Maew District, Chanthaburi is a community favourite. CONTAINMENT’s Nat Sumon tells why.

Anukoon Charunthup, the presenter of “Rak Sukaphab” or “Love Your Health”. Pix by WHO/Nat Sumon

If you live in Khaeng Harng Maew district, Chanthaburi, where there is only one strong radio frequency, your favorite entertainment channel would definitely be the local radio network FM95.75.

Among the variety of programs carried by FM95.75, the most popular slot seems to be a one-hour health program every Wednesday called “Rak Sukaphab” or “Love Your Health”.  Undoubtedly the listening audience, attracted by the easy-listening music, tune in faithfully every Wednesday to the health program that has helpful tips on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

“Love Your Health” also has a call-in facility that allows listeners to interact with the presenter Anukoon Charunthup, who is also head of the Malaria Clinic in Khaeng Harng Maew District, Chanthaburi. The program allows listeners to phone in to ask any health-related questions they might have.   And as an indication of the radio program’s popularity, the station’s phone is always ringing off the hook.

Anukoon tells CONTAINMENT that he began hosting the “Love Your Health” radio program about five years ago when the local radio network was just launched.

“Chantaburi is no stranger to vector-borne diseases,” he says. “The health topics that I cover in my radio program range from malaria, dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

Anukoon’s radio program is important for Khaeng Harng Maew residents especially during the rainy season. “It’s the rainy season when diseases like malaria and dengue are rife and I use the radio program to disseminate preventive messages and tips on how listeners will be able to protect themselves from falling sick,” he adds.

But there is a humourous side to Anukoon, too. He tells CONTAINMENT that malaria is also known as “khai-mae-yai-bua” in Thai, which means “fever that pisses your mother-in-law off!”

Anukoon explains. “When you have malaria, you can’t work to feed your family, and that’s when the mother-in-law becomes cross because her daughter and grandchildren would have to go hungry.”

The Malaria Clinic head in Khaeng Harng Maew District made it clear that the most vulnerable group to malaria are male wage earners.

“Because of this, my program gives advice on where these workers would be able to get mosquito repellents and insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent themselves from getting malaria,” adds Anukoon. The “Love Your Health” radio call-in program also tells these workers where the locations of the malaria clinics are and assures them that diagnosis and treatment is free of charge.

Though Anukoon believes that local people are very acquainted with malaria, its symptoms, and vector control and prevention measures, he, however, tells CONTAINMENT that they need to be reminded of the dangers of malaria during the rainy season.

Anukoon has been presenting “Love Your Health” for about five years and is now building up the capacity of his staff to co-host the show to add diversity to the radio program and also fill in as main presenters when he has to travel outside the district for meetings and workshops.

“My hope is that by building up the capacity of my staff as presenters, they would in turn be able to start their own malaria radio shows if they are promoted and transferred out of the district,” he explains.

But wearing two hats at one time can be tiring for Anukoon. “I frequently get calls from listeners asking me where I was in the previous week, for instance, because they didn’t hear my voice on radio,” he explains.

But the rewards are always gratifying. “Every week I get e-mails and calls from listeners telling me how much they enjoyed my show and how useful the health messages were to them,” says Anukoon. “That’s enough to keep me going.”

Written by malariacontainment

July 21, 2011 at 11:22 am

From Music to Malaria: Rural Radio Key for Malaria Education

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CONTAINMENT’s Moeun Chhean Nariddh profiles a popular interactive radio program on malaria education broadcast from Battambang.

Soeum Chamnan , the radio presenter in Battambang. Pix by WHO/sonny krishnan

As the sun sets in a late afternoon in Cambodia’s Battambang province, many housewives, shopkeepers, farmers and others stay glued to their radio sets to listen to music and songs played from FM radio stations along both sides of the Steung Sangke – a legendary river that was embroidered in many fond Khmer love songs and romantic music from the 1960s and 1970s.

Before too long, this entertainment comes to an abrupt end on the Chamkar Chek National Radio as the clock strikes 5pm.

Unlike the DJs at other private stations who continue playing music or singing karaoke songs along with their listeners, Soeum Chamnan at Chamkar Chek Radio is now engaged in a more serious radio show. She changes from entertaining her audience to helping save lives of people who are at risk of getting malaria.

For an hour from 5pm to 6pm, every Friday, Chamnan’s task is to coordinate a radio talk show, jointly produced by the USAID-funded Malaria Control in Cambodia, Equal Access and the National Malaria Control Center, during which listeners pose questions to experts about how to protect themselves and get treatment for the mosquito-borne disease. The radio program is also fully funded by USAID.

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Written by malariacontainment

July 21, 2011 at 10:42 am

Mobilizing Communities Through Positive Deviance

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Members of the Buddhist clergy certainly have an important role to play in positive behaviour change when it comes to malaria prevention, writes CONTAINMENT’S Moeun Chhean Nariddh.

Malaria campaigners are increasingly using monks to help disseminate preventive messages. Pix by WHO/ Sonny Krishnan

In a spacious, yet unfinished dinning hall at Serey Mongkul Pagoda near the Cambodian-Thai border in Battambang Province, young and old villagers sing songs and play games with health workers and malaria experts at a handover ceremony, to local villagers, of a positive behaviour change communication project to fight malaria.

Men, women, boys and girls brave their usual shyness and stand up to answer quizzes and questions posted by communication and public health experts from Cambodia’s National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM) and the international NGO Malaria Consortium to test their knowledge and understanding about malaria.

In contrast with the mostly blue-collared polo T-shirts worn by staff from CNM, Malaria Consortium and community leaders, about half a dozen monks in saffron robes watch and listen with great attention to how the villagers answer the questions and quizzes.

In fact, these monks are here with a reason. In the campaign to fight malaria, Buddhist monks have been involved to help educate villagers about malaria and how to protect themselves from the mosquito-borne disease.

It is here that Malaria Consortium and CNM, with the support of the World Health Organization’s Containment Project, pioneered an innovative behaviour change communication strategy called ‘Positive Deviance’ or PD. Three villages, Kampong Chamlang Leu, Ploav Praim Muy and Samsep, selected for the study were from Sampov Loun, a district of Battambang province.

The PD approach initiates community dialogue, respects local wisdom and provides social proof by identifying positive practices from within the community which ensure acceptance and expedite the process of behavior change. It allows community members to be active beneficiaries, engaged as full partners to play a role in their own health and protection from malaria.

Venerable Pich Bunthoeun...a malaria champion in the community. Pix by WHO

“I preach Buddhism and teach people about malaria and dengue fever,” explains Venerable Pich Bunthoeun, the 45-year-old abbot of Serey Mongkul Pagoda. He adds: “The monks have a very important role to educate people about malaria.”

Venerable Buntheoun says people give more respect to the monks and will follow their advice when they tell them to do good things.

“When the monks say anything, people listen to them more than ordinary persons,” he says.

The abbot says he and other monks attended a three-day training seminar in Battambang province in April 2009 and learned various knowledge and skills on how people can prevent and get treatment for malaria.

The Venerable says he got enough knowledge to teach people and that people have also known a lot about the disease partly thanks to the teaching by the monks.

“I am happy that people and children have good health,” Venerable Bunthoeun says with a smile, adding that he hopes that he will continue the work to fight malaria.

Loch Yoeum, 60, says she has lived for 13 years in Komrieng District’s Takrey Commune, where Serey Mongkul Pagoda is located.

She says there used to be a lot of forests around these areas and that people were falling sick from malaria, including herself.

Yoeum says the monks have told people to clean the environment, sleep in mosquito nets and to wear long-sleeved shirts to avoid malaria.

“People are poor, so it will be more difficult if they get sick,” she explains.

The findings in Malaria Consortium’s report titled: “The ‘Positive Deviance’ approach to improve malaria outcomes among mobile and migrant workers in Cambodia” indicate that most of the community members and migrant workers believed that men especially mobile and migrant workers, ‘kamakor and kachport’, (corn collectors) are the high-risk group for malaria. The female mobile workers also noted that men are most vulnerable to get malaria as they work at night in the farm or forest.

The Malaria Consortium report, however, has several positive stories one of which is on a migrant worker’s wife.

“A migrant worker’s wife always pack a hammock net in her husband’s luggage, whenever he goes to the farm and reminds him, ‘Eing eing mon chol dek kom plech chang mong’ (Darling! Do not forget to use the bed‐net before you sleep to avoid malaria).”

Dr. Meas Tha, Deputy Director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM), says malaria experts and campaigners would involve the monks to help educate people during big festivals such as the World Malaria Day and other national holidays.

He says the monks are more influential and people think that when the monks tell them to do anything they mean to advise them to go along the right path for their happiness.

“The monks are the role model for people to follow,” he says.

Written by malariacontainment

May 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Schoolgirl’s Malaria Knowledge Helps Family Avoid Getting Sick

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Fourteen-year-old Seub Saren who educates her family in Pailin about malaria. Pix by WHO/Sonny Krishnan

“Malaria is spread by female ‘nail’ mosquitoes during nighttime.”

“To avoid getting malaria, people should protect themselves from being bitten by female ‘nail’ mosquitoes by sleeping in a mosquito net.”

“People who have malaria must take proper medicines as prescribed by a physician.”

This is Lesson 11 at Grade 5 in Cambodia which young Cambodian students are taught at school as part of the curriculum for their “Applied Science” study.

However, like other lessons about such diseases as typhoid and dengue fevers, malaria is not an interesting lesson for many students who live in non-malaria infested areas.

But for 14-year-old Seub Saren who has attended a school in Siemreap Province’s Srey Snom District, she finds this knowledge about malaria particularly interesting and useful for her family when they moved to Pailin, where malaria posed a serious health threat to migrant workers like her family.

“After she returned from school, she told the family how to protect ourselves from malaria,” says her father, Se Seub, who is now living and working in Pailin with his wife and four children.

Seub says he was sick with malaria when he came to work in Pailin three years ago and that he had to go back to Siemreap for treatment.

However, he says he has never been sick with the disease during the last few years after learning to protect himself and his family as his daughter taught them.

Seub Saren says she knows very well about malaria from the lessons she has learned at school, which was why she could educate her family how to prevent the disease.

Like Seub Saren, other fifth graders in Pailin can also easily score a good mark for the lesson about malaria.

Unlike many other lessons about Science that is complicated and difficult to learn, Nuon Phon says teaching malaria as a subject in Pailin is very practical and relevant.

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Written by malariacontainment

November 28, 2010 at 10:57 am

Using Taxi Drivers and Radio to Reach Mobile Migrant Workers

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Dr. Kheang Soy Ty, Chief of Party of the USAID-funded Cambodia Malaria Prevention and Control Project (MCC) and Khorn Linna, a communications specialist with Partners for Development (PFD) tell CONTAINMENT of their efforts to raise malaria awareness among mobile migrant workers. The MCC, in partnership with Partners for Development, works in Cambodia’s western provinces where malaria is a serious public health problem.

MCC's Dr. Kheang Soy Ty (left) and PFD's Khorn Linna. Pix by WHO/Sonny Krishnan

 

Why has the project chosen taxi-drivers to spread knowledge among migrant workers about the cause of malaria?

Dr. Soy Ty: Before we chose this strategy, we did focus group discussions (FGDs) with village chiefs and staff in health centers. The FGDs also included those from the mobile and migrant population. The FGD results indicated that the majority of migrant workers, from other provinces, used taxis to get to Western Cambodia. For many of these migrant workers, especially from the southeastern part of Cambodia that borders Vietnam, the taxi drivers are their first point of contact in the West. Also from the FGDs we found out that the popular taxi routes are from Battambang to Samlaut; Battambang to Sampov Luo; and Battambang to Pailin.

The southeast part of Cambodia has no falciparum malaria cases. So you have people moving from areas of low endemicity to areas of high endemicity. The migrant workers make their way to the West, especially during the harvest season, to work in the plantations.

How are the taxi-drivers trained to raise awareness of malaria among migrant workers?

Khorn Linna: First we conducted an FGD with three groups of taxi drivers that carried migrant workers along the following routes: Battambang to Samlaut; Battambang to Sampov Luo; Battambang to Pailin.  We wanted to find out whether we could collaborate with these drivers and we also wanted to assess their basic knowledge on malaria prevention. Besides that, the FGDs also gave us a good opportunity to find out from the taxi drivers what were the best kinds of IEC [Information, Education and Communication] materials that they [taxi drivers] could give out to their migrant worker passengers.

After the FGDs, we started the first training of taxi drivers in Battambang. We had 33 drivers from the three different locations in the training. The training was to ensure that the taxi drivers disseminated accurate information on malaria prevention and treatment to their migrant worker passengers. Because they were the primary message providers, as the first point of contact for migrant workers, we also had to make sure these taxi drivers had good communication skills.

Now we have 33 taxi drivers in our network and we plan to conduct quarterly workshops to monitor and evaluate their activities, and also evaluate the IEC materials that we have developed jointly with the drivers.

Are the taxi-drivers also trying to change the treatment-seeking behaviour of migrant workers – like seeking out the village malaria worker first for diagnosis and treatment if they have fever, rather than going to the pharmacy for self-medication?

Dr. Soy Ty: In the training programmes, we ensure that the taxi drivers themselves have accurate information on malaria transmission and also adequate knowledge of the vector in its ability to transmit malaria. Also through the training programmes, the drivers know the symptoms of malaria or suspected malaria – the fevers, chills, headaches, cold sweats etc. The taxi-drivers are also made aware of the location of health facilities and village malaria workers along the Pailin, Samlaut and Sampov Luo routes, where migrant workers can get free diagnosis and treatment for malaria. All these packets of information are important because the taxi drivers will be able to advise the migrant workers on what to do if they have fever and where to seek free diagnosis and treatment, rather than going to the drug outlets or pharmacies first.

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Written by malariacontainment

November 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm