Global disparities for access to healthcare: A Personal Story

May 12, 2023

My own mother begins this story with her washing the dishes and hearing a loud scream. She runs to see boiling tea split on my leg. She puts me in the sink of water, and an ambulance arrives promptly. I, at 9 months of age, have immediate emergency care and daily wound dressings in a Burn’s unit for the coming months. Because of the healthcare system around me, I did not have a contracture.


I have met another mother recently, who shares a similar yet vastly story to mine. Her one-month-old child in a small province in Cambodia had started to develop his palmar grasp. He began to pull objects to himself. In this unfortunate case, he pulled a hot pot towards him, burning both of the palms of his hands. The worried mother went to the small province hospital where they saw blisters on his hands, a sign, they tell the mother, that the burning is continuing. They bandage up the hands and then discharge him.


Fortunately, as the child aged, he had immediate no loss of function of the hands - he writes, goes to school, his favourite subject is maths. Whilst there is no immediate loss in function, the boy has been left with contractures on his hands that mean his cannot fully extend the hand and it is now starting to cause problems. His mother they hadn’t known where to go to help this until someone suggested CSC.


I spoke to her after the surgery, as her what her hopes are for him. She says that she has heard great things about CSC and that she is very hopeful for her child’s future. He says he is in some pain from the surgery, tomorrow we will see if the skin grafts have worked and whether ten years after this burn, he will finally have a normal hand.


Watching the plastic surgeons graft skin from the upper anterior thigh to use on the fingers and use the ‘Z’ technique to ensure adequate coverage of the wounds (where the incision runs like a ‘Z’ and the skin is wrapped around) was fascinating, the techniques that are used here are complex and still the CSC provides this care inexpensively to the patient via donors and vital donations. When I see these children, I hope that one day global access to free, safe healthcare will become a right.


In the last fortnight, I have seen 3 patients with burns that have caused disabling muscle contractures. The first is explained above. The second had a contracture of the second and third webspace and the third, today, a young child with a contracture of the arm, ready to go into the theatre for a release of this.


For children like these, the CSC is bringing back not only improving the aesthetic but also hoping to improve the functionality of the joints affected by contractures. The WHO estimates that 400 million people do not have access to essential health care. A lack of safe, affordable healthcare in Cambodia is what makes places like the CSC so valuable, providing complex care to those without access, whilst being inexpensive to the patient.


CSC is doing its best to improve these children’s lives with one surgery at a time. A child has a chance to be an adult with a good quality of life despite an unfortunate accident in the past. CSC brings the healthcare right afforded to those in the West, to the children of Cambodia.

Author: Prabodhinee Jogiya

My name is PJ I am currently in my final year of medical school in the U.K. I am currently undertaking a surgical elective at Children’s Surgical Centre. I am an avid reader, outside the hospital, I always have a book in my hand.

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