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From the Field: Providing Care for Children in Cambodia


Community Health

Our Asia and Middle East Program Manager, Joe Harrison, is currently traveling in Southeast Asia, visiting Direct Relief’s partners who treat people in need of health care and other services. Below is his update from Cambodia. 

On our first day in Siem Reap, David Shoemaker of Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) took our team along with him on a home care visit.

ACH runs a program in which 2 to 3 times a day, a team of medical professionals drive outside of the city into the countryside to follow up with kids that were previously treated at the hospital for anything from malnutrition to HIV.

No more than a 10 km drive outside of Siem Reap and the setting changes drastically.  Dirt roads washed out by heavy rain and riddled with massive potholes make it extremely difficult for Cambodians to access healthcare services (hence the importance of these home visits).

In fact, the first day we joined the team, we came upon a group of men rebuilding the road.  We turned around, chose another route, drove for another 45 minutes to find the only other road to our patients washed out completely and impassable.  It was disheartening to say the least, but good to know that AHC will reschedule with the three patients they planned to see.

Fortunately, the second day we successfully visited three houses.  The AHC nurse followed up with three children and their families, bringing food and medicine and advice for further care.

For me, the experience stressed the importance of increasing access to healthcare in Cambodia. I’m glad to know that AHC’s home care program is supported by the Abbott Fund and Direct Relief.

A few days later, we walked the streets of Steung Meanchey, the slums of Phnom Penh, with Scott Neeson of our partner, the Cambodian Children’s Fund.  Each night, he checks in on families, identifies kids that he brings into the CCF satellite schools, and tends to the sick. Scott not only knows all of the kids in the neighborhood by name, but also their backstory, birthdays, and other personal facts.

Many of the kids we came across had at one point been severely malnourished, but nursed back to health by the attention of CCF and the PediaSure donated by Abbott and Direct Relief.

The CCF staff was remarkable and seeing the impact that this collaboration of organizations has made on the village was truly encouraging. Everybody I’ve met thus far simply says thank you to all who support Direct Relief.

Related post > Improving Childhood Nutrition in Cambodia

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