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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - HIV patients slam Kampot services

HIV patients slam Kampot services

10AIDS-new.jpg
10AIDS-new.jpg

SOM VISAL

HIV-positive farmer Pao Vanara (L) collects water with his wife at his home in Kampong Bay district, Kampot province. Vanara has been getting ARV drugs from the state-run Kampot Referral Hospital but says he would prefer to be treated by Medecins Sans Frontieres in Takeo because of reportedly better care and more available medicine at the NGO operation.

Kampot – People Living with

HIV/AIDS in Kampot province say doctors at the provincial referral hospital

discriminate against them and often fail to provide adequate life-prolonging

medicines to patients.

But while government and

hospital officials confirm there may be problems at Kampot Referral

Hospital, they also say

both doctors and patients should show more tolerance for one another.

Mean Chhi Vun, director of

National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD (NCHADS), said the Ministry

of Health as well as NCHADS believe the proper policies are in place.

The government has enough

drugs in stock and is responsible for providing them to all patients

countrywide, he said.

Cambodia has 67,000 registered HIV patients, of which about

30,000 need drugs.

Chii Vun said the first time

HIV patients at the hospital see a doctor they are given pills for one to two

weeks. This is so they will return for a follow-up visit to determine whether

they have had a reaction to the pills.

"The patients have to use the

pills properly and regularly,” Chhi Vun said. "Most of the patients are still don’t

understand how the pills should be used so they need a clear explanation from

the doctor. Otherwise the pills given will be useless.”

He said doctors from all

provincial hospitals received trained in how to treat and deal with HIV

patients. The training covered 180 hospital staffs from 24 cities and

provinces.

"They have a lot of other

work, but they devote time to work for people living with HIV/AIDS,” he said.

"It would be better if they

(doctors and patients) showed more tolerance to each other,” he added.

Several Kampot patients told

the Post said that nurses and doctors

at the Kampot hospital make them wait hours to get their medicine, then pay no

attention beyond handing out pills. They said staff never check their

temperatures. Sometimes there are not enough pills.

Prak Sovan, 37, HIV positive

since 2006, said that when he goes to pick up his pills, doctors require him to

wear a face mask or a plastic bag and they often are rude to him.

He said sometimes they do not

have enough tablets and he has to go to a pharmacist instead. Other times they

only give him enough for one or two weeks, which means he has to make the long

trip back and forth often.

 Another patient, Nhem Sokunthea, 27, said,

"Patients never receive a medical check up to see whether they are improving or

worse off after receiving the pills.”

Services in Kampot are

provided by the NCHADS.

In Takeo, the services are

supported by NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres Belgium.

Pao Vanara, 44, who was

infected when he went to work in Thailand, said he would like to

switch to Takeo, "but "I do not have money as it is quite far.”

Koy Chanthou, coordinator of the

Children and Women Development Center

in Cambodia,

who deals with HIV patients in Kampot, said many patients prefer services in

Takeo province because the doctors at Takeo pay more attention to them and

provide better quality medicine.

She said the organization has

received complaints from patients in Kampot and has proposed that Kampot

hospital give patients more pills and that doctors there show more respect to

patients.

Nguon Sreymom, coordinator of

a Kampot support group for those with HIV, said about 200 patients are

hospitalized in Kampot with HIV, and more than 500 HIV patients in the province

are receiving antiretroviral drugs.

Most of them live in remote

areas so it is difficult for them to get services, he said.

Dr Yim Sambath at Kampot

hospital defended the practice of asking patients to wear a face mask because

it protects hospital staff, he said.

Sambath said hospital staff

do not discriminate against HIV patients, but added, "We do not have enough

staff so we cannot favor all patients.”

Mong Thuch, deputy director

of Kampot referral hospital, defended the hospital’s dispensation of the pills.

"We have teams who consult

with patients before giving them [ARV] pills,” Thuch said. "The hospital gives

the pills to about 15 patients a day.”

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