Early 2018, Reaching Cambodia kicked off a long time project which had been kept aside for too long.
The idea is that through the main support from Reaching Cambodia children at SFODA Residential centre improve their health situation. Health is a cause of concern, since a few cases of serious illnesses have been identified among the children. These include Hepatitis B, respiratory issues, and cardio-malfunction. Other health concerns also include a number of transmittable diseases such as red-eye (conjunctivitis), common cold, and flu. Since 60 children live in a small centre, within 2 separate buildings, certain health issues can be easily transmittable.
Sleeping in large dormitories with bunk beds, with few restrooms (proportionally 10 – 12 children per restroom) puts insult to injury. The living space is rented and thus adding and improving buildings is currently not a possibility. These issues need to be either medically treated imminently or ideally prevented. The idea of this project is to address such issues.
In February 2018 the project has been kicked off.
The project will is currently divided into 4 different programmes.
- Medical Records
In Cambodia, there are no actual medical records. Children at the residential centre, at times do not even have birth certificates let alone medical records. Most times medical history is taken directly from the child and rely solely on the child’s memory.
We decided to take the matter into our hands. Each child and staff at the centre underwent a medical check-up and notes were taken. Any blood test, vaccination or history of disease of the child residing at the centre was listed. The record was set up by a Reaching Cambodia volunteer and the idea is to repeat the drill every 6 months.
Children and staff were provided with routine blood tests as well as screening for HIV and Hepatitis. Such blood tests cost $50.00 per person. New children at SFODA undergo the medical routine tests.
Both Reaching Cambodia and SFODA holds confidentially the medical records of children.
Vaccinations are not obligatory in Cambodia and often are considered as a luxury reserved for those financially stable. Since protection against diseases is very important, especially in the environment the children live in, children and staff are now undergoing Hepatitis B immunization at the cost of $33.00 per person for three vaccination shots needed in 2018, each a month apart. Another shot is required in 2019 for the full protection against the disease.
All at the centre children are also undergoing tetanus vaccination. The cost of $27.50 per child and carer will cover them against tetanus as a lifetime protection.
All children who are enrolled at SFODA benefit of the vaccination programme imminently.
- Emergency Medicine Programme
In Cambodia, 7% of children die before their 5th birthday – most times due to illnesses which could be prevented with proper treatment. Unfortunately in Cambodia, hospitalization and treatment come at a cost. Thus, Reaching Cambodia committed to support the costs of the children in need of such.
Accidents during play and health issues unfortunately arise frequently. Whether it is a dog bite or a fall or an infected mosquito bite or the need for spectacles, Reaching Cambodia is always there, promptly aiding the kids.
The foundation will also support any treatment needed in view of long-term communicable diseases such as Hepatitis B treatment.
The exact costs are difficult to be determined in advance given the huge number of children and also the very young ages which are still building up immunity.
- Prevention Programme
The idea is that through medically oriented volunteers in conjunction with Cambodian doctors, the foundation will be giving repetitive teachings regarding first aid, and preventive hygiene measures and education.
This programme will also include the improvement of nutritional intake, such as having a glass of milk on a daily basis, increasing vegetables and protein portions thus reducing their risks to diseases. As a rough idea a glass of milk a day to all the children will sum up to around $6,000 annually.
The ongoing programme is aimed to improving the overall hygiene standards – which would in return reduce the costs of the Emergency Medicine Programme. Extermination of head lice and improving personal hygiene such as introducing wearing of underwear as small paces that may lead to better outcomes.
It will also give children and staff the right education towards the various medical subjects, including sexual education. Such subjects are still sensitive within the Cambodian culture and hence needs the right translations.
The total cost of the Medical Project was expected to be around $12,000, during the first year. The expectation cost has been exceeded and it is unclear how much it will cost at the end of the year. However, it is expected to decrease in the following years, in view that vaccinations will not be repeated and the prevention programme should aid to keep the costs low.