Project supervisor Malen Luy, NAMRU-2, reviewing how to take GPS coordinates with the staff. (Photo courtesy of the Department of State)

U.S. Ambassador discusses NAMRU-2’s efforts in Cambodia

By: Ambassador William (Bill) E. Todd, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia

One of the best things about being an Ambassador at an active embassy – like we have in Phnom Penh – is that we are always implementing many projects that benefit Cambodia.  Fortunately, I get the opportunity to showcase some of the most exciting projects with you in my blog. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with my colleagues at the U.S. Navy Medicine’s Naval Medical Research Unit-2 (NAMRU-2).  The NAMRU-2 staff focuses on conducting medical research that can help keep the Cambodian people safe from diseases. 

Project supervisor Malen Luy, NAMRU-2, reviewing how to take GPS coordinates with the staff. (Photo courtesy of the Department of State)

Just recently they began enrolling new participants in a study that will help identify the reasons for serious respiratory and diarrheal diseases in areas surrounding cities and in rural parts of Cambodia.  Once we better understand the cause of such diseases, we can develop better methods of prevention and treatment.  Perhaps you know someone who suffers from one of these diseases?  If so, you can appreciate what a difference it would make in their life if we could learn how to prevent or cure these diseases better.

The enrollment process for the new study involves going door-to-door in the villages in the study areas.  The field volunteers explain to the residents of each house how the study will work and ask the villagers if they are interested in participating. 

Here the NAMRU-2 village volunteers discuss the study with villagers. (Photo courtesy of the Department of State)

Given that NAMRU-2 hopes to have four villages and a total of 5,000 people participating in the study, the enrollment process takes a lot of person-to-person contact, but it is important that the participants understand the study and are comfortable with taking part in it.

NAMRU-2 sent me photos of the volunteers’ first day out in the field.  It’s great to

see our Embassy team working to reduce diseases in Cambodia, while at the same time helping to strengthen Cambodia’s growing public health research field.

A thumbprint to join the study! (Photo courtesy of the Department of State)

If you’d like to learn more about NAMRU-2, check out a description of their work on the U.S. Embassy website here.

Editors Notes: Naval Medical Research Unit-2 (NAMRU-2)NAMRU-2’s mission is to identify infectious disease NAMRU-2 relocated from Jakarta, Indonesia in June, 2010 and officially opened as NAMRU-2 Pacific on June 17, 2010. Current operations are ongoing at the detachment laboratory located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and the detachment within the U.S. Embassy Singapore.  NAMRU-2 is a subordinate laboratory of Naval Medical Research Center, part of Navy Medicine’s global biomedical research enterprise that works to enhance the health, safety, readiness, and performance of Navy and Marine Corps personnel and joint U.S. warfighters.

… And, meeting wherever the villagers would like to meet. Here they are meeting in the shade of a tree. (Photo courtesy of the Department of State)