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MSF in Cambodia, 2002
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Expanding frontline treatments for malaria and AIDS
When MSF first arrived in Cambodia in 1989, health care was practically non-existent, particularly in the rural areas. Over the years MSF has played a pivotal role in the restructuring of the country's health system, building and strengthening facilities in marginalized areas. Now, only two health districts, Sotnikum and Thmar Pouk, are still supervised by MSF and even Thmar Pouk is preparing for handover. MSF will nevertheless maintain a presence in Cambodia, running a selection of small, pilot projects of high medical value, looking at ways to help the most vulnerable. Malaria
One of the most innovative projects is aimed at research into effective malaria treatments in Anlong Veng and Sotnikum. Set up in response to a malaria epidemic in 1999, the project introduced combination therapy (artesunate and mefloquine) to combat drug resistance that has rendered old drugs ineffective and proven so fatal. The government soon adopted the more effective combination therapy in its national protocols. More recently MSF is considering an operational trial of a new combination drug called Artekin (which combines the drugs artemisinin and piperaquine); this combination therapy is cheaper and has fewer side-effects. The success could have significance beyond Cambodia, helping to improve access to effective and affordable malaria treatment in other countries as well. MSF is working with malaria specialists to gather the scientific data needed to develop a comprehensive treatment protocol. Click here for more on efforts to improve malaria treatment.
MSF's pilot program to administer antiretroviral (ARV) therapy to AIDS patients for free, introduced in July 2001 at Norodom Sihanouk Hospital in Phnom Penh, had over 115 patients by mid-2002. MSF is the only NGO treating AIDS patients with triple therapy in a public health facility in Cambodia, a country where most of the money for HIV/AIDS goes essentially to prevention programs.
The Chronic Disease Clinic in Siem Reap, an MSF initiative which opened in April 2002, is hoping to benefit from the experiences at Norodom Sihanouk Hospital and at MSF's ARV programs in Thailand and eventually introduce antiretrovirals. MSF is currently treating AIDS patients for related infections and also focusing on other chronic diseases for which there is very limited treatment in Cambodia, such as diabetes, hypertension and arthritis.
MSF has been active in Cambodia since 1989.