Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A project using drama that engages with village communities in Cambodia, led by Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah of the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit and Nuffield Department of Medicine, has won a Project award in this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Awards. The project also won the Vice-Chancellor’s Choice Award for Public Engagement with Research.

Children on stage

The announcement was made at an awards ceremony at Keble College, Oxford, on 10th July hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson.

The project is aimed at supporting malaria elimination and raising awareness of malaria research in rural villages.

“Such communities often record lower literacy rates compared with urban areas, so leaflets and posters are unlikely to succeed.” says Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah “This research engagement project used Cambodian drama which involves comedy and music to share the stories and key messages.” 

Drama was as an effective way to engage Cambodian villages, selected due to their high malaria incidence. Each village had a two-day workshop led by the drama team with a free public performance on the third evening. During the workshops local children were given singing and drama training, drawing workshops and education about malaria. Villagers contributed real local stories about malaria which were then integrated into the performance.

This project enabled a further strengthening of relationships with the National Malaria Control Programme and provincial health departments for malaria research and also the local school teachers, shop owners and village malaria workers. They also help to build trust between the research team and the local stakeholders.

The participants benefited from learning about malaria, its prevention and treatment, and the children had the opportunity to learn art and theatre and to perform in public.

"We will remember this our whole lives!" said a participating 14-year-old-girl from Battambang in north western Cambodia.

Professor Alison Woollard, University Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research says:

“These awards highlight the many ways that Oxford’s researchers engage with the public. This includes informing and empowering people by sharing research findings; working in partnership with communities to shape research and enabling citizens to take part in the research by collecting and analysing data through Citizen Science. These winning projects also demonstrate that excellence in engagement results in a ‘win-win’ for both researchers and publics alike.”

About the awards

The Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards recognise and reward those at the University who undertake high-quality engagement activities and have contributed to building capacity in this area. The awards are in three categories – Early Career Researcher, Building Capacity and Projects. Entrants can be at any level in their career and activities of any scale are welcome.

Similar stories

COPCOV now world’s largest COVID-19 pre-exposure prophylaxis trial

A 6-week recruitment burst at Aga Khan University in Pakistan led the way as COPCOV enrolment broke 1600 participants. Led by MORU, COPCOV is the world’s largest trial trying to determine if hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine prevent COVID-19.

How did people in Europe and SE Asia experience the first COVID-19 wave?

An international team, led by Phaik Yeong Cheah, conducted an anonymous online survey from May-June 2020, asking 5,058 people in Thailand, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Italy and Slovenia to share their experiences. Anne Osterrieder and colleagues report the unequal impacts of public health measures, and the prevalence of ‘fake news’.

Recruitment surges in COPCOV COVID-19 prevention study

As high COVID-19 daily cases and highly transmissible variants risk overwhelming countries’ healthcare systems, COPCOV, the world’s last-standing large prophylaxis RCT, faces tight timelines to determine whether chloroquine/ hydroxychloroquine prevents COVID-19

Simple blood tests may help improve malaria diagnosis in clinical studies

About one-third of children diagnosed with severe malaria may instead have an alternative cause of illness, but simple blood tests could help researchers distinguish between the two and speed up research on new treatments.

ASM Editor in conversation with Nick White

Malaria continues to be a major killer, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations with more than 500,000 deaths per year, most of them African children. Emergence of resistance to antimalarial drugs is major public health issue. American Society for Microbiology Editor Dr Cesar Arias discusses with Professor Sir Nick White the latest information on this rapidly evolving field.

AMR and scrub typhus among Chiangrai Unit's research priorities

Which infections are most common in the Chiangrai region? How should we treat them and how can we improve diagnostic? Which strategies are most effective in directing antibiotic treatment? Blog by Carlo Perrone, research physician based at the Chiang Rai Clinical Research Unit in Chiangrai, Thailand.