Matthew Power [1974-2014] was an award-winning freelance print and radio journalist and a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine.

Slipping Through The Net: Cambodia’s Border War Against Drug-resistant Malaria

Harper's Magazine  |  April 2012


The provincial health clinic in Pailin, Cambodia, is a single-story concrete structure with peeling white paint covering the exterior and a red cross hanging above the entrance. The walls are hung with sun-faded malaria- education posters written in Khmer script. One illustrates a nighttime scene in a jungle hut: a mother and child sleeping peacefully beneath a net as oversize mosquitoes drop to the floor in death spirals. I am standing with a group of Cambodian doctors and nurses in stained white lab coats, and we form a semicircle around a young man slumped in a plastic chair, arms crossed and skin glossy with fever sweat. He is Chheang Ayn, a twenty- eight-year-old migrant farmworker who has come to the clinic from his village on the Thai border. A doctor shows me the results of a rapid diagnostic test. The man is infected with Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the deadliest strain of malaria. Chheang’s face is flushed and exhausted, but he smiles weakly and trades jokes with the doctors. He’s made it to the right place: the parasites in his bloodstream are about to be fought with the best medicines available to modern science. ... [pdf]

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