The work of Angkor Hospital For Children (AHC) is immense. Since 1999, the paediatric teaching hospital -- Cambodia’s first -- has provided more than one million medical treatments, education to thousands of Cambodian health workers and prevention training to thousands of families. A non-profit, the hospital relies entirely on donations.
With sobering statistics like 1 in 77 children in Cambodian children dying before their fifth birthday, the essential work AHC carries out is no easy task. AHC offers inpatient and outpatient care, surgical services (including heart surgery), 24-hour ER, intensive care treatment and antiretroviral HIV therapy. With an eye clinic, neonatal unit, physiotherapy and even a social work department (a very rare thing in Cambodia), the scope of the hospital’s services is very broad, yet with a clear focus on quality.
Many of the 500-600 patients seen daily travel from far and wide, on the bus, the backs of motos or any means possible to receive free medical care. The hospital helps support those who can’t afford it with travel costs, food and sleeping materials if they stay overnight and it provides basic on-site cooking facilities. The queues are long, as Cambodian families wait their turn for help. Nurses focus on around 40 percent of patients, enabling trained doctors to handle the worst illnesses and problems.
The hospital is located in the centre of Siem Reap with a Visitor Centre for those in town with an interest in learning more about their life-saving work and how they can help. However, the hospital’s work is not confined to Siem Reap and those that have made the journey here. AHC also runs a Satellite Clinic 35 kilometres outside of Siem Reap, in partnership with the government hospital, to try to enable the most impoverished and more rural dwellers access to basic healthcare provisions.
After the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia was left with a mere 50 doctors in the entire country. Education is therefore also core to the hospital’s work, both of skilled medical professionals in Cambodia and through community outreach work. AHC’s staff are 99% Cambodian. When foreign doctors do visit to perform specialist surgery, the goal is to also train local medical teams to be able to continue carrying out the same vital operations.
AHC also runs programmes in schools, local communities and regional health centres to help strengthen the existing health care provision, and in clear recognition that education helps with prevention.
Basic public healthcare provision doesn’t yet go far enough in Cambodia; AHC’s work is vital and heavily relied upon by many Cambodians. How to help? Donate online. If you’re in Siem Reap, donate blood at the hospital. Raise money via sponsorship – you can even do so in Siem Rep getting sponsored for the annual Angkor Wat Half Marathon.
Each month a Travelfish.org writer selects a charity or non-government organisation that they believe does excellent work on their patch in Southeast Asia. They write about them and we donate $100, a small way for us to give something back to the region. If you're looking to give back too, please consider giving a little cash as well.
By Caroline Major
Last updated on 31st May, 2015.