Madam Khonesavanh Phuvongkonchanh runs a small pharmacy in Tatpo village of Pathoumphone District, Champassack Province since 1989. She returned to her village to run her family-owned Khonesavanh Pharmacy after graduating as a nurse in Pakse.
The pharmacy serves about six to ten villages in the Pathoumphone area, and Madam Khonesavanh sees on average about three to four suspected malaria patients each day, mostly with high fever symptoms. She says that most of these villagers are exposed to the nearby forests where they enter to collect wood and other forestry products.
Madam Khonesavanh runs one of the Government-certified Public Private Mix network for malaria diagnosis and treatment. When a patient arrive at her pharmacy, she would check if the patient has been to the forest recently, and use the rapid diagnostic test kit for malaria if the patient has high fever and chills.
The Public Private Mix (PPM) initiative is funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) with technical support from World Health Organization. The network is managed by the Centre for Malaria Parasitology and Entomology of Lao PDR, and it includes 8 provinces, 22 districts, 17 private clinics and 242 private pharmacies mostly in high risk malaria areas.
Madam Khonesavanh is bubbly and chatty, telling us how she would go to the homes of malaria patients if they do not come back for their medication after they get slightly better after one or two days of treatment. She would nag at them and ask them why they do not bother to take good care of themselves.
If a patient comes from a far-away village, she will keep the patient at her pharmacy till the patient completes all three doses of the treatment course before allowing the patient to go home. She says she is worried that the patients do not complete the 3 days full course of treatment if they go home.
Madam Khonesavanh keeps a proper record of all her patients in her PPM malaria record book. From January to June this year, she has listed 102 suspected malaria patients that she has seen, of which 69 tested positive for malaria. She informs us that she provides this data to the village malaria worker and the village health volunteers who will compile and send the data to the Pathoumphone District Health Office.
She says that many forestry companies in the area come to her to buy anti-malarial drugs. She does not sell as not all patients who have fever are malaria patient and she will advise them to send the sick patient to her pharmacy. She charges 2,000 kip for the RDT malaria test kit.
Madam Khonesavanh with her nursing background and vast Malaria experience; she is definitely a key player in the fight against malaria.