The Medical Project kick started in 2018 with the idea of improving the overall health situation at the SFODA Residential centre. A year and a half later the project successfully implemented the initial phase of setting up the medical background of each of the children and the basic vaccines, to moving on to the next phase being health education.
Sleeping in large dormitories with bunk beds, with few restrooms (proportionally 10 – 12 children per restroom) is the main factor leading to a domino effect when it comes to several transmittable diseases such as red-eye (conjunctivitis), common cold, and flu. These issues need to be either medically treated imminently or ideally prevented. The idea of this project is to address both.
Other health concerns assessed through the early phase of the project were respiratory and cardio-malfunction as well as screening for Hepatitis B and HIV.
The project is now at an advanced stage is divided into 4 different phases.
- 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 or health updates. 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 taken were filed. 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. Frequent medical updates have been possible through medical volunteers travelling to Cambodia with Reaching Cambodia.
Children and staff were provided with routine blood tests as well as screening for HIV and Hepatitis in 2018. Such blood tests cost $50.00 per person. Nowadays, new children enrolled at the Residential Centre undergo the same medical routine tests so that medical records can be set up.
Both Reaching Cambodia and SFODA holds confidentially the medical records of all children and staff.
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 at the centre throughout 2018 were given two Hepatitis B immunization shots at the cost of $33.00 per person for three vaccination shots, each a month apart. The final shot for full protection against the disease will be given in 2019.
In 2018 the children at the centre were also given two tetanus vaccination shots at the cost of $16.50 per child and carer. This vaccine will cover them against tetanus as a lifetime protection.
- 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 which at times the centre cannot afford. Thus, as part of the Medical Project, Reaching Cambodia committed to support the costs of the children in need of such.
Accidents during play and health issues are unplanned and unfortunately arise frequently. These emergencies are covered through a yearly contingency fund for short term medical problems. Whether it is a dog bite, a fall, an infected mosquito bite or the need for spectacles, Reaching Cambodia is always there, promptly aiding the kids to help them in the little ways that will eventually improve their wellbeing.
The foundation will also support any treatment needed in view of long-term communicable diseases such as Hepatitis B treatment.
In this regard, yearly costs are difficult to determine in advance given the huge number of children and the very young ages which are still building up immunity.
- Prevention Programme
As part of the ongoing project Reaching Cambodia is now also promoting the importance of health aiming to prevent diseases and shaping the overall conditions of daily life which will eventually have an impact on the overall health of the children.
The idea, is that through medically oriented volunteers in conjunction with Cambodian doctors, the foundation will be giving repetitive teachings regarding first aid, preventive hygiene measures including dental hygiene as well as health education including sexual education. These subjects are still sensitive within the Cambodian culture and hence the need for such information amongst the younger generations is of extreme importance.
As an ongoing project this programme will also include the improvement of nutritional intake of each of the children at SFODA. Such examples include a glass of milk on daily basis which helps to increase the daily calcium and protein dose. This project was decided upon following results from blood tests conducted in the early days of the medical project. To date 57 children have been benefitting from the project for the past six months at a cost of $500 monthly being hopeful that their bones and teeth grow stronger.
Another ongoing project was the increase of vegetables and meat portions in every meal to ensure that the daily basic nutritional requirements are taken. These ongoing projects help improving the overall nourishment of the children which was confirmed in our recent trip in January 2019 and in turn over time will help reduce the risks of diseases.
The programme is also aimed at improving the overall hygiene standards amongst the children – which would in return reduce the costs of the Emergency Medicine Programme. Throughout the past year several spot checks for head lice were conducted by Reaching Cambodia volunteers and the necessary treatment was given amongst all the children aiming at reducing the spreading of lice from one child to another. Furthermore, all Reaching Cambodia volunteers help in the improving of personal hygiene through the introduction of underwear wearing, hand washing and dental care. Throughout these little paces we can already see the difference in the overall health of children and staff.
The launch of the Medical Project throughout 2018 was a successful one. Plans have already been made to continue this project over a long term and having more results.