Gloomy Cambodian hospital
The incident of last Sunday March 2 where we lost a teacher in “another” motorcycle event, showed me how gloomy, hard, inhuman and barbaric are the public hospitals in Cambodia. There is not the possibility of any good review on it and we need to call the attention over this reality that affects the common Cambodian citizen and shows a high level of corruption, lack of solidarity for the poor and weakness of the national institutions. Where have gone near 30 years of humanitarian aid to Cambodia since UNTAC made its “democratic transition”? Why so much funds poured into the Cambodian health system produced this kind of gloomy hospitals where nurses, doctors, ambulance’s drivers and even the cleaning personnel concentrate with a very systematic way to get as much as money as possible from patients, especially in emergency cases? They profit the worry of relatives and friends who at the heat of the moment try to save the life of their dear ones and would not discuss any payment.
Last Sunday night we brought the two teachers to the Kampot Public Hospital from their accident site in Kep City at 2 AM. One of them was already dead, but the other was alive and with a lot of hope. His head was completely crushed, his arms destroyed and his breathing was strong, fighting to keep his life.
The doctor checked the body of Teacher Ren and declared he was dead. His body stayed at the back of the car alone, while everybody concentrated in the survival of Teacher Soon. In those moments of high stress no dear ones put attention to the belonging of the victims, but the vultures and there are a lot vultures at the Kampot Hospital. The wallet of late teacher Ren disappeared with his last salary, a ring and a collar.
The doctor concluded that teacher Soon had few hours to live… just like this, cool blood in this man, without showing any further effect… but claiming the payment for “his mediocre services”. The only recommendation this “doctor” gave was to send him to Phnom Penh or to Vietnam. To Vietnam!!! Who is this “doctor”? What is he doing in a public hospital? Where did he study medicine? Why the Kampot Hospital has not enough equipment to attend the citizens in emergencies? Where are the funds sent by several countries like USA, EC, Japan.. to the Cambodian health system that this “Hospital” cannot save the life of a person sending him to a foreign country?
Teacher Soon´s family said by phone to bring him to Vietnam, so we did arrangement with the ambulance to cross the Hatien border. Two other teachers went with him in the ambulance. After they left, we requested to prepare the body of Ren to send to Sihanoukville for his family. The cleaning personnel requested another 80 thousand riel to do it!
In the “expensive” Kampot Hospital they took the salary of a dead person that should go for his widow elderly mother, his ring and a collar and then they ask payment to clean his body plus sending it to his town… Of course, any service should be paid, but any service must be done well and with respect, something they did not show.
When the ambulance arrived to a hospital in Vietnam – the two teachers who went with Soon reported – the doctor there showed immediately interest in his case, he did not ask money and he did not say that his life was finishing… They showed what we call professionalism. Of course, we had to pay, but in a transparent and professional system, it is understood.
It seems there is not shame to read something like the recommendations by the US Embassy of Phnom Penh that writes in its website:
“Medical facilities and services in Cambodia do not meet international standards. Both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have a limited number of internationally-run clinics and hospitals that can provide basic medical care and stabilization. Medical care outside these two cities is almost non-existent.”
“Non-existent”!!! Medical care outside Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is not existent according to the US Embassy!!! According to this appreciation and by exclusion, the Public Kampot Hospital is a fake center… it´s nothing more than a machine to steal the money of the people in a heath tragedy.