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Cambodia’s Free Children Hospitals in Danger

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Download Cambodia is in the middle of a dengue epidemic.

In the last six months 60 children have died from the disease. That is a 200 percent increase in number of cases compared to the same time last year.

And the Cambodian Ministry of Health is warning that it’s not over yet.

With 25 percent of the Cambodian population living on around a dollar a day paying for medical treatment is difficult.

But as Sorn Sarath reports a group of free hospitals for children is providing a lifeline to the poor but they are struggling.

It’s 5.30 in the morning and already hundreds of patients are lined up outside the Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha hospital.

Teng Kimsrorn has travelled more than 100 kilometres with her 6-year old son who is suffering from dengue.

“I only believe in this hospital. It’s the third time I have taken my son here. He was born here too. I never go to any other hospital. All the children who have come here for treatment were saved.”

The hospital takes care of more than 3,000 sick children each day.

All medical services here are offered free of charge to all.

This hospital is one of five in Cambodia built by a Swiss doctor Beat Richner.

The funds come from the government and personal donations.

But times are very tough and the hospital staff says they might have to close their doors in six months time.

Each week Dr Beat Richner holds a cello concert in the tourist town of Siam Reap.  

Before the concert he tells visitors about the importance of the hospitals.

“There’s no other place to bring your child in case your child is feeling sick in Cambodia. It is known to everybody all access is free. All treatment is free. So in the last 20 years we have treated in the outpatient station 12 million sick children, we hospitalised 1.3 million severely sick children.”

Richner says, without his hospitals,  80 percent of sick Cambodian children would have died.

“So it is known to everybody; it is even known to Prime Minister Hun Sen himself, it’s  known as the only place to bring your child in case they are severely sick. Recently Hun Sen’s grandchild was sick... he’s OK now. But he still brings his grandchild to Kantha Bopha hospital.”

Tonight’s cello concert has raised around 700 US dollars.

Heng Sothy is the Vice President for the hospital in Phnom Penh.

“This is a great contribution for the hospital. It’s a good sign for the rich to give some of their money to the hospital. This hospital is for all children.”

But it’s far from what they need to keep the hospitals operating.

They need around 30 million US dollars annually.

A major cost is wages for the nearly two and half thousand well-trained doctors and nurses.

Doctors earn up to 800 US dollars a month – compared to 40 US dollars in state hospitals.

With an increasing number of dengue patients this year, personal donations are not enough.

Last June, Dr Richner made a public all for the Cambodian government and the international community to do more to help.

He also criticises the country’s public health system and private sectors for charging poor patients too much.

Earlier this month, the Cambodian government and the Cambodian Red Cross each donated 1 million US dollars to the hospitals.

Sok Touch is the Director of the state Communicable Disease Control Department.

“The government pays attention, we have donated some money. Everytime there’s a problem, we have to sit together and think together for the health issues. This is our first priority according to the national strategy from the Health Ministry.”

Back at the hospital.

32-year old Ing Sokchea is feeding her 3-month baby in the queue.

Her son is suffering from a respiratory disease.

“It’s my first time here. I want the hospital to stay. We have so many poor children in the country. If this hospital is closes our chilren will die. This hospital is our only hope.”


آخری تازہ کاری ( ہفتہ, 18 اگست 2012 16:53 )  

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