The Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital has been present in the country for over 10 years. The collaboration agreement with the Ministry of Health provides that OPBG provides health support and training in the field of Neonatology within the Sonja Kill Hospital of Kampot, a private hospital which guarantees access to free treatment for the weakest sections of the Cambodian population.
A mobile clinic program that reaches government Health Centers in the Province of Kampot and kindergartens of the diocese of Phnom Penh has been developed. The project intends to focus on children and teens living in rural areas, which are difficult to access and where the hygienic-sanitary conditions are highly precarious, affecting the death rate.
Object of the collaboration is remote training of medical and nursing staff and on-the-job training missions and health care through the Mobile Clinic, for children living in rural areas where hygienic-sanitary conditions are highly precarious.
The Mobile Clinic
OPBG-VATICAN (supported by OPBG, Rome) was opened in 2006 to fill “the gaps” in the accessibility of pediatric care in rural areas, paying particular attention to children in poverty and underprivileged conditions.
One of the main activities of Bambino Gesù Hospital in collaboration with Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital pediatric doctors is a mobile clinic to deliver quality medical assistance and medicines to sick kids in rural health centres, which do not have doctors, but only nurses and midwives.
Although 80% of the population still lives in rural areas, hospitals and specialised medical and nursing staff are concentrated in urban areas, thus creating an imbalance in the distribution of health care for the Cambodian population.
The primary purpose of the mobile clinic project is to increase the quality of primary pediatric medical care in rural areas, especially looking for cases that require further investigation or surgical interventions due to accidents or congenital or acquired pathologies.
Even in the case of confirmed pathologies, parents who live in rural areas often do not know how to access health care services or do not have the economic means. Furthermore, rural health centres need more personnel and staff skills to respond to the population’s needs or refer them to the nearest hospital.
Therefore children met at the mobile clinic and requiring non-complex surgery (abscesses, hernia, hydrocele, simple fractures) are thus referred by OPBG to Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital and are offered hospitalisation and treatment (including surgery) at low cost or free of charge. The poorest families also receive a refund for travel expenses to the hospital.
The Bambino Gesù Hospital social worker takes care of the patients from registration until the end of hospitalisation.
With the idea to start a new era for Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979 persecuted all religious people; pagodas and churches were closed and demolished, families were dismembered, the school system was destroyed, the hospitals were closed, millions of individuals were deported to the countryside.
The Khmer Rouge regime was followed by a decade of Vietnam-friendly government.
The country had to be rebuilt. After the withdrawal of the Vietnamese, a transition phase under the direct supervision of the UN followed, which led to elections in 1993, the writing of a new constitution and the return to the monarchy.
The healthcare system also had to be rebuilt from scratch.
The health system is nowadays organised into 3 levels: district, provincial and national. There should be a health centre (the lowest level of health care) within 10km or two hours’ walking distance from each village and a referral hospital within no more than 3 hours of travelling by car or boat from each village.
There have undoubtedly significant great improvements in healthcare structures and systems in the last decade.
Despite that, socio-economic factors are still a strong determinant of access to care. Indeed, the accessibility of treatment and the use of health services are still strongly affected by the level of education and the people’s beliefs, the cost of the health service, and the distance to the health service provider (especially in rural areas).
One of the most significant challenges the healthcare system is facing is the need for more professional ethics of healthcare professionals. Patients are not given explanations and are not treated with compassion and dignity.
Among other challenges, the flourishing of small and large private healthcare facilities and the unregulated drug sale by unauthorised private individuals and non-professionals has led to better accessibility to medications but not a better quality of care.
Sometimes even poor people, having lost faith in public structures, refer to more expensive private facilities by getting into debt, believing that a higher cost is related to a better quality of service.
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Neonatology, Mobile Clinic
- Mobile clinic project:
- 52 outings in the health center of the Province of Kampot
- OPBG missions:
- 1 Institutional mission
- 1 Urology mission
- 1 Neonatology mission
- Foreign team missions organized by OPBG:
- 1 Orthopedic Surgery mission
- 1 Plastic Surgery mission
- Distance learning program and discussion of clinical cases – Neonatology