H undreds of people, mostly soldiers, may have needlessly been infected with
critical diseases including the HIV virus because a hospital is can not afford
fresh needles which retail for 200 riel each.
A nurse and a pharacist at
Preah Ket Meala military hospital say needle re-use is common due to lack of
funds. They said that needles are only sterilized overnight after having been
usd all day on patients throughout the ward.
Needle sharing is a highly
effective means of transmitting the HIV virus and is usually associated with
Jeun Tavie, a nurse at the hospital since 1991 said: "We have
to reuse the same needle. For example, in this building [B1B] there are thirty
"We use one needle two times a day for three days before
we threw it away. We have to use the same needle for all the
According to Tavie the needle is sterilized by boiling in
water. In this way potential transmission of the virus is only prevented from
the last patient of the day to the first in the morning.
who preferred to remain unidentified, said he witnessed injections of four or
five patients who required the same medicine and ended up sharing the same
needle as well.
The hospital pharmacist Hel So Phal also admitted the
hospital is re-using needles. He said "We desperatley need needles, syringes and
medicine. Could you please advertise to any foreign agencies for
Richard Remas, Phnom Penh-based technical officer for the World
Health Organization's Global Program on Aids said: "We have heard frequently
that there is a re-use of needles and a lack of sterilization.
going to keep on happening until resources are available to supply needles and
The Defence Ministry runs the hospital but the appropriate
official was unavailable for comment.