Infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis, pose a serious public health threat throughout Asia. Inform Asia: USAID’s Health Research Program implemented by RTI International, provides training for ministries of health and regional partners to strengthen health systems through the promotion of evidence-based data for policy development. The program has been especially beneficial to Thailand with most cases of the disease being concentrated along border providences. Inform Asia provides technical support for Thailand’s malaria surveillance system to test, diagnose, and follow-up on malaria cases to ensure successful treatment and to monitor coverage of bed nets for prevention measures.
Women in Action
Women leaders are playing a vital role in the success of Thailand’s national malaria program. Women involved with the program are challenging stereotypical gender roles by promoting best healthcare practices in the field and online.
Kanayarat Lausatianragit, a public health technical officer for Inform Asia, has proved herself to be a public health champion. She is on the frontlines of malaria elimination and leads teams to provide training and treatment in medical centers and remote villages. Her work along the Thailand and Cambodia border leads isolated migrant workers, village farmers, and army soldiers, to mobile clinics that reduce their risk of infection from exposure to tropical environments.
Not only does Lausatianragit save lives through training and capacity building, but she also networks with local agencies, government departments, and community officials to foster strong partnerships that deliver cost-effective interventions to patients. Lausatianragit is responsible for implementing the use of a mobile messaging platform to allow her team to report information back to the national Malaria Information System and deploy rapid treatment within seven days. The pioneering communication platform has transformed how malaria is controlled and eliminated in Lausatianragit’s providence.
By committing to the elimination of malaria in Thailand by the year 2024, Lausatianragit and other female health practitioners are paving the way for a malaria-free world.
“Women and men don’t differ in terms of malaria work,” Lausatianragit says. “We all have to work in a structured way, following scientific principles… The most important thing is we should be flexible, understand the context of the field and collaborate.”
Unphased by traditional attitudes towards gender, Inform Asia: USAID’s Health Research Program is building the capacity of its staff to implement the appropriate use of data to strengthen healthcare solutions and prevent infectious diseases.
Photos Courtesy of Permsak Tosawad and USAID Inform Asia.