Dr Nadia Wong, is a Singaporean working as a doctor here in Cambodia. She did her medical studies in New Zealand and worked there prior to coming over. She initially came to live in Cambodia, then she volunteered with some NGOs before she found the current job at MW Medical Cambodia clinic. At the clinic, she works as a medical doctor in general practice as well as being the Clinic Manager.
Dr. Nadia recalled, “I first came here in December 2009. At that time I did some volunteering with One-2-One Cambodia which had regular combined medical and dental mobile trips to slums, provincial communities and prisons.”
Her team visited the resettlement area at Damnak Trayeoung (20km northwest from Phnom Penh city). Nadia said, “At that time, I worked as part of the medical team providing basic health care to the sick people – consultations and basic treatment such as head lice removal, wound cleaning, pain medications, antibiotics and vitamins.”
Between 2010 and 2011, she went on similar mobile trips to the provinces like Kampong Speu and Kampong Chhnang, as well as prisons like CC1 and Takhmao prison, also with One-2-One Cambodia.
Then, she spent her volunteer time with an NGO called Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC). EYC has previously set up schools in some poor communities around Phnom Penh. “I conducted basic oral hygiene workshops to students who attended their schools, where I taught them how to brush their teeth,” Nadia added. “The NGO also sponsored the students with a free toothbrush after the workshop.”
December 2012 she volunteering for a day trip with St. John Ambulance Singapore to Koh Rumdual island off Takhmao organised by the NGO Family Care Foundation – Cornerstone Project. The team consisted of senior members of St. John Singapore – a voluntary humanitarian organisation specialising in first aid and other life-saving skills.
“We set up a medical centre for the children and widows who lived on that island, doing consultations and treatment,” she said. “Many of the children had coughs and colds, looking undernourished. The women also had health problems. Some needed to go to hospital to get expert medical care, but many couldn’t afford it”.
“We did the best we could and for the serious cases to be followed up by the NGO.”
Dr. Nadia found that the problem for Cambodians living in the rural areas is that it is difficult to keep healthy as many live under the poverty line. They do not earn much and what they have is just enough or sometimes inadequate to tide them over to the next day. To prevent sickness, people first need to keep healthy, and to do that they need to eat well.
“I feel that if people are able to eat good meals consisting of a balanced diet, for example rice, meat and vegetables, they may have better health as eating healthily boosts their immune systems to fight off infections,” Nadia said.
With lack of nutrients, many do not get enough vitamins and minerals from their diet, resulting in weakened immune systems and higher risk of getting serious viral and bacterial infections.