I flew into Bangkok on Sunday night to get an early start on Monday morning at the Wellcome Trust-Mahidol University-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Programme Unit (MORU). Everybody there was exceedingly helpful and friendly. Vanaporn Wuthiekanum (“Lek”) is a senior microbiologist who has been working there since 1986. Lek (everybody in Thailand has a nickname) provided valuable technical advice and information on ordering the supplies we would need to prepare blood culture bottles in Cambodia. Lek developed the procedure that is used in the microbiology laboratory at the Angkor Hospital for Children.
On this coming Friday, Dr. Ket Vansith, Dr. Chou Monidarin and I will meet at the School of Pharmacy to make the first batch of blood culture media. We will then be able to supply hospital microbiology laboratories with bottles of inexpensive, quality tested blood culture media.
One of the things that we had not considered was that the best way to sample any bottles that become turbid with potential bacterial growth in the laboratory is to use venting needles. Unfortunately, these needles cost about $1 USD each. We will have to try to find a less expensive source, perhaps in China or Vietnam.