Story shared by Mr. Ser Channa, Village Malaria Worker, Cambodia

My name is Ser Channa. I am 61 years old. I live with five children and works in cashew nut plantation. I am also a village chief of Sahakran village, Chamkar Andong commune, Chamkar Ler district, Kampong Cham province. As my personal experience, from 1987 to 1988, there was an outbreak of malaria, and a lot of people died from malaria. My wife also got malaria. She was unconscious for three days before she reached to hospital. In 2014, I became a VMW. I also work as a TB volunteer by identifying TB patients and monitoring their treatment to ensure they complete the medication. I do not need to work for a volunteer every day. On average, I have to spend 1-2 hours a day if people come and take blood tests. I want to help my community. I think if I can help people free from malaria, it is also helping them to reduce poverty.

As a challenge, I have to go 23 km to reach the health center for the meeting, and I live in the remotest village compared to other volunteers. It is also very difficult for me to work in the rainy season and to travel to HC for meeting. We also don’t have a raincoat. Another challenge is that it is difficult to convince the villagers to get malaria treatment when they got a positive test. They believe they get sick because of the forest spirit. So, they try to treat illness by offering and praying to forest spirit. It took me about three years to convince villagers in the village about malaria, its prevention, treatment, and for them to follow all the steps and recommendations and treatment. Now it is getting better; they know where to look for diagnosis and treatment. They are also sharing information with others to come to me when they suspect themselves of having malaria. Another small thing is that sometimes the monthly meeting is conflicting with other meetings I have as the village chief, but I try to make it works and make time for the VMW works related meeting.

I think it benefits my community because I raise awareness of malaria transmission that not because of forest spirit that makes them sick, but from mosquito bites. It is about knowledge sharing about malaria at places with a high risk of malaria. Now, the malaria cases in the village are decreasing. For the suggestions, I would like to have refresher training per year and want to see an increase in financial incentives for this volunteer work. Having a uniform for VMW would also be nice because the villager will be able to recognize us when we speak to them in their house.