Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Mobile Clinic

We had the opportunity to go to visit a mobile health clinic run by the Sihanouk Hospital that was located 45 minutes outside of Phnom Penh after we received an invitation from the Manager of International Volunteers from the Sihanouk Hospital center for Hope-Sideth. We met him early morning in front of the hospital and he took us in a SUV with a driver to an area outside of the city where very poor people of Phnom Penh had been relocated by the government. These people were moved to an area where they were given the opportunity to live in a "shack" like home which was provided for them by the government. Once the community was set up, a mobile health clinic was put into place to assist with the health needs o the people. Due to the distance from Phnom Penh, many of the people had no jobs or little source of income and lived in a state of poverty.

 Cathy & Mary greet children near the mobile clinic
When we drove up to this community we were struck by the poverty that we witnessed. The homes were made of crude materials - open to the outside with no glass windows, very small in size often housing more than one family in a very small space. There was no electricity, running water or plumbing in the homes. Holes were dug behind the homes to serve as a toilet creating a mecca for unsanitary conditions. Small children walked around without diapers which were too costly. The children in the community started to follow us around calling out to us "hello" "hello" which was the only word that they could say in English. We spoke with them and played with them.

Doctor inside the mobile clinic
We went into the clinic which was made up of a general waiting room with a roof- no windows and open to the air - and a one room clinic- no exam room - everything was open. There were two doctors, two nurses and a room full of people waiting to be seen. There were several cases of tuberculosis, diabetes, children's coughs and colds and diarrhea. The people came in one at a time or a child with their mother to be seen by the physician. We noticed very simple teaching charts on the wall. One wall chart demonstrated why a child should wear shows to protect their feet. Not one of the children that we saw were wearing shoes. Another chart demonstrated the need for mosquito nets as Dengue fever is a big problem from mosquitos in this area. We were told that sometimes when a family receives a mosquito net, they use it for a fishing net and not the intended purpose.
We were also taken to see a set of two row houses that had been built by Habitat for Humanity. They were located about a ten minute drive from the mobile clinic. In order to live in one of these houses, the people had to pay $15 dollars per month. These houses were better constructed, had a toilet and access to clean water. One of the residents took us for a tour of their little home. It had a small bedroom, small living room, very small kitchen which was partly outdoors with a roof over it and a small bathroom.

After seeing the state that these people live in, our hope is that everyone should realize how fortunate we are to have a roof over our heads with reasonable space to live in, clean drinking water and clean clothes to wear.

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