High mortality and malnutrition in war-torn Cambodia
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In 1975, after years of civil war, Cambodia suffered a devastating blow to its development as the Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Penh. Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's vision for a Cambodia absent of any social institutions such as banks, universities, religions or any modern technology centered on a return to an agrarian communist society.
The Khmer Rouge guerilla organization sought to triple agricultural production in a year, as the population of Phnom Penh and every major city was "marched" into the countryside to begin a new life without the trappings of capitalism and free markets. The means of implementation were to begin exterminating anyone who didn't fit with or comply with this new ideal. The "new" nation was being turned back to "Year Zero", and intellectuals, businessmen, doctors, Buddhist leaders and foreigners were "purged." It is estimated that 1.5 to 2 million people were killed during this time.
The "purging" continued unabated until Vietnamese troops, provoked by border skirmishes with the Khmer Rouge, invaded in 1979 and sent the Khmer Rouge back to the jungles. After a decade of occupation, the Vietnamese withdrew in 1989. In 1991, the United Nations established the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). In May, 1993, elections were held and a new coalition government was formed between the two leading parties, ushering in a period of relative political peace. The Khmer Rouge did not finally stop killing Cambodians until 1998, when Pol Pot died.
Cambodia continues on its road of recovery. One quarter of the population was killed between 1975 and 1979, and today, over 33% of the Cambodia's people are children. More than one third of the population lives on less that $1 a day. As the nation rebuilds its infrastructure and social mechanisms, massive inequality between the urban centers and the rural poor continues to grow. Over 75% of the population lives in rural communities characterized by malnutrition and limited access to health services. Rapid urbanization has caused stress on financial resources in an economy where it is estimated external donors supply about half the nation's budget. Today, Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in the region.
Our work in Cambodia
Since 1979, Medical Teams International has sent 46 medical and dental teams to Cambodia. In 2007, we registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and opened a country office in Phnom Penh. Our presence in the country has helped us facilitate health-focused programs with local partners. Community Health
Our Child Survival Project is improving the health of children under 5 and women of reproductive age. Our health promoters are delivering immunizations, nutrition training, control diarrheal disease and are addressing water and sanitation issues.
Medical Teams International recently complete its work in Andong village, a community of approximately 1,300 displaced families. In collaboration with a local Christian partner, The Organization for the Development of the People of Cambodia (ODPC), we trained community health volunteers and implemented hygiene, drinking water and sanitation projects requested by the community. Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
Road safety has not kept pace with the rapid rise in motorized transport. Insufficient law enforcement, safety, education, and access to health services have contributed to tremendous suffering from a startling number of road accidents and casualties.
Four Cambodians die in traffic accidents every day. Many others sustain serious injuries. These accidents have an enormous impact on the social and economic welfare of the country. An estimated $116 million USD, or 3% of the country's GDP, is lost each year.
Medical Teams International has developed contextualized training EMS tools in the local language (Khmer).
Our EMS work includes:
- Publishing the first Khmer language pre-hospital care textbook and pre-hospital care training DVD.
- Emergency response training at Angkor Hospital for Children, Calmette Hospital, and with partners KEY and New Life.
- Developing a training of trainers (TOT) program with the provincial health department of Khmpong Cham which will include 11 hospitals.
- This year, we'll build a cadre of Cambodian Master Trainers, who will be able to train at the ‘EMT’ level, and will work directly with the Ministry of Health to increase pre-hospital care in the capital.
- We will also work with local Christian organizations to contextualize and translate a first responder manual for village health volunteers and health center staff. Volunteer health workers will take this knowledge back to their communities.
Plans for 2012-2013
This year, we will send eight EMS teams, three dental team, four medical training team, one general medical and one work/vision teams to Cambodia.
More information about our successes in Cambodia is in the EMS in Kampong Cham Cambodia report [PDF].
Our partners in Cambodia
Angkor Hospital for Children is a pediatric teaching hospital funded by the NGO, Friends Without a Border. The hospital is dedicated to improving the health and future of Cambodia's children by providing medical, nursing and para-medical education coupled with high quality pediatric care.
Cambodian Hope Organization is a Christian NGO based in Poipet, Cambodia. Their vision is to see a network of strong, hope-filled communities, where adequate mental, physical, and spiritual needs are met. They believe this to be in keeping with Matthew 22:v39, where Jesus commands us to "love our neighbors as ourselves". CHO believes children to be at the heart of this vision for Cambodia and strives to educate, empower and equip children as leaders of the future. In fitting with this, the pinnacle of CHO's ever-expanding network of projects is currently a ten year vision for the creation of a safe haven site close to Poipet: set to house educational, pastoral and administrative facilities.
The Cambodian Ministry of Health and the local affiliate, the Kampong Cham Provincial Health Office, carry out health initiatives and programming in Cambodia. These key partners position our work into permanent programs and provide the proper permissions and sanctions. Calmette Hospital is the primary trauma hospital in Phnom Penh, emergency medical care training and ‘master trainer’ development.
Dr. Frank Cho is a Korean National working as a dentist and missionary in Phnom Penh. He runs his own private practice as well as does several trips to the outer provinces to provide access to care where there is normally none. MTI dental teams will travel with Dr. Cho to the outlying provinces to provide much needed care as well as education on how to maintain good oral hygiene.
DOVE, formerly Kingdom Equipped Youth (KEY), focuses on leadership development and discipleship for the emerging generation (16-30 year olds) of Cambodian leaders. DOVE implements community health education and runs a first aid training program. Evangelicals for Cambodia oversees DOVE's work.
Foursquare Children of Promise is the largest caregiver for orphans in Cambodia and provides year-round care for approximately 80 church-based orphan homes in Cambodia. It provides shelter and nutrition as well as medical and dental care for the orphans.
New Life Foundation is a humanitarian organization that ministers to the poorest of Cambodia’s poor through sustainable relief and development work. New Life Fellowship is a movement of local autonomous churches that have been planted and are supported by Cambodia Outreach.
The Organization for the Development of the People of Cambodia is a small Christian nonprofit. The organization operates an elementary school for impoverished children and implements income-generating textile and sewing projects. The primary goal of this group is to serve the spiritual and physical needs of the community, including shelter, water and sanitation needs.
Please donate or volunteer to help save lives in Cambodia.