Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a population of 43% below the age of 15. Nearly half of its children are malnourished, and one out of eight will die before their fifth birthday, due to preventable causes.
MERCY Malaysia has been deploying mission members to Cambodia to provide medical relief since 2002 and has been exploring new ways to provide assistance to its people. Our projects were mainly flood relief due to the yearly overfl owing of the Mekong river. Since then, Cambodia’s flood mitigation programme has successfully reduced the flooding and with that our relief work came to a close. In 2004, we deployed a team to provide medical assistance in the Angkor Hospital for Children.
MERCY Malaysia deployed our volunteer paediatric surgeon and paediatrician in June to Angkor Hospital for Children located in the Siem Reap province. The Angkor Hospital for Children is funded by a non-profi t organisation called Friends Without A Border. The hospital serves as the provincial Paediatric Hospital as well as trains government health workers.
During this mission, our volunteer paediatric surgeon performed 11 scheduled surgeries including hypospadias, removal of haemangioma and anterior chest wall, cases involving hirshprung, rectal bleeding, right orchidopexy and left brachial cyst, rectovestibular fistula anoplasty, splenectomy and hypospadias, torticollis and neurofi broma removal. MERCY Malaysia also donated medical supplies to the hospitals, and had utilised part of these donated items during our scheduled surgeries. Our volunteer paediatricians were also engaged in postgraduate
curricular activities to train future paediatricians.
The Cambodia mission also provided an avenue for the team to network with government departments and other NGOs while assessing the possibilities of future projects in Cambodia. Many children are suffering from malnutrition, tetanus and common diseases like pneumonia. During our assessment, our volunteers observed three children being on respiratory support. As the hospital lacked equipment such as ventilators, nurses had to manually handbag as much as they possibly could. This procedure has only a 25% success rate. As there is very little funding to the hospitals, it did not provide neonatal care facilities or enforced vaccination programmes. There were also cases of children affl icted with HIV and AIDs.
In the Horizon
Our assessment revealed that general healthcare situation especially in Siem Reap needs international aid. MERCY Malaysia is exploring ways to work with the government and international NGOs in assisting the upgrading of medical standards in the region, and especially supporting the paediatric activities within the Angkor Hospital for Children.