“Our task seems never-ending. Every day we have scores of people coming to the Centre requiring consultation and surgery. We just never stop. It’s gratifying to see so many leave after rehabilitation surgery, smiling and able to recommence their lives.”
Dr. Jim Gollogly, CEO
Healthcare in Cambodia
Cambodia went through a 30-year period of warfare and genocide which has left behind many consequences, including a high rate of persons with disabilities. CSC’s patients arrive at our facility (located in the capital, Phnom Penh) from areas throughout the country. Operating since 1998, nearly all of our patients arrive as a result of word-of-mouth recommendations. Cambodia’s poverty-ridden countryside suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure. Many of Cambodia’s disabled people live in extreme poverty and have difficulty accessing services. Many experience discrimination and have little or no opportunity to participate in all spheres of society including education, the job market, and politics.
CSC has conducted many outreach missions to provincial Cambodia, and still does some but with the advent of radio and television, these are less necessary nowadays. On these missions, our staff usually meets with the medical and nursing personnel of provincial hospitals and clinics, with village and commune Chiefs, and with other stakeholders who can refer patients to CSC for treatment not available in the countryside. Furthermore, the outreach team often conducts presentations in the villages in order to educate the villagers about some facets of health care, and about CSC’s services. We no longer do surgery in outreach facilities, as it is so much easier to organise and do, if the villagers come to CSC.
Disability in Cambodia
Many rural Cambodians seek traditional medical care from village healers, and often do not seek modern medical care for months or years despite having a treatable condition. Hence there is a much larger percentage of disabled people in the population than would be expected, mostly as a result of poorly treated or untreated rural injuries, an increased instance of preventable diseases, and congenital disabilities in children who were never seen by a competent doctor.
Once a patient presents to CSC, consultation and surgery are free of charge. Some patients stay in CSC for as little as one night (those who have surgery for cataract, cleft lips, or squint repair, for example), while others stay for several days or months and require multiple surgeries and/or extensive physiotherapy. Every patient must be accompanied by one personal caretaker, and both the patient and caretaker are provided with free meals and clean drinking water throughout the duration of their stay.