Friday, July 2, 2010

HOPE in Remote Rural Cambodia

Many Cambodians who live in some of the remote rural areas far inland have just had a special opportunity to get Pacific-Partnership-style medical care. The clinic at Pich Mony Tek Al Ak and the clinic at Veal Ang Popel were among the sites designated for Medical Civic Assistance Projects (MedCAPS); the teams working at these sites included three Project HOPE volunteers: Betsy Trefts, M.D., Earl Rogers, Pharmacist, and Kristina Angelone, Pharmacy student from Shenandoah University. They are pictured here with the helicopter that flew them from the USNS Mercy, along with their colleagues from the Navy and NGOs and partner nations.

The MedCAP called for seven days of rustic living at camps that were formerly used by United Nations Peace Keeping staff. Kristina found the experience to be “an excellent example of people working together with a constant goal of performing as a team.”

At the MedCAP a dramatic moment took place while patients waited in line: an eleven-year-old boy among them vomited and fell to the ground and was unresponsive. A nurse who saw the event immediately gestured to HOPE's Dr. Trefts to examine him. She found that he was dehydrated and thought he might be having a conversion reaction. Immediately a corpsman put in an IV line for rehydration. At the same time an aide summoned the hysterical mother to come over and speak to her son, and then he opened his eyes. A translator stepped in to get background information and to explain to the family what actions the medical personnel were taking. When Betsy had determined that the boy probably had a urinary tract infection among other things, a dentist provided intramuscular antibiotics. The family was asked to have the child seen at a hospital, but because they had no money it was agreed that he could instead come back to the clinic the next morning. When the sun next rose, the family showed up on their moped with the boy feeling better.

A moped was also the standard mode of transportation for any woman in labor, typically with husband and grandmother onboard as well. After just a few hours at the clinic for the final stages of labor and delivery (in silence), the enlarged family would get back on its moped and drive home with the new baby in its mother’s arms.

When asked about the kinds of illnesses they were chiefly treating, the team from Project HOPE cited a large number of tuberculosis cases, many enlarged spleens, many children with what was probably malaria, possibly visceral leishmaniasis or schistosomiasis, plus a Pott’s puffy tumor.

Thanks for reading - Mary Hamill, Ph.D., Project HOPE PAO

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