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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hospital hits crisis

Hospital hits crisis

Hospital hits crisis


HE former Cambodian-Soviet hospital is desperately short of medical resources,

water and electricity and is being hindered from getting help by government

policy and mismanagement according to Hospital Director Dr So Phan.


said: "Since the Soviets withdrew their funding in 1991 the electricity supply

has been sporadic and water has had to be bought in from off the


Phan said: "The government gives us $700,000 a year but this

meets only 30 percent of our operating costs."

"You see our hospital is

very overstaffed, we have over 600 staff and only about 200 patients, but I

can't dismiss any employees."

"I have been to the French, German,

Japanese and Russian embassies to attract funding, but they hesitate to give

because they say our hospital is too big."

"The administration and

management of the hospital are a hangover from the former SOC period. They are

very poor in facilitating the needs of patients, many staff just care about


"I came to this job a year ago. Sometimes I try to implement

change and cut down the bureaucracy but often the staff simply ignore what I say

and don't carry out my orders.

Coordinator of Medicins Sans Frontieres

France, Dr Pascal Crepin, said: "There are a lot of NGOs in Phnom Penh but they

do not get involved because the hospital is very big. I know the hospital has a

lot of needs, especially equipment, materials and human resource


Crepin said MSF France are currently providing training in

surgery and anesthetic technique's to the hospital's nurses.

Phan said:

"The electricity supply provided by the government through Electricity Du

Cambodge is very unreliable, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, it's just

a clicking candle.

"This is very bad as often it goes off during

operations. Sometimes the patients just lie there bleeding. Often we have to

wait five minutes to get the generators going.

"We have one old

generator left by the Soviets and three others donated by the Japanese

government last year. But they are all very run-down and only provide enough

power for operations in emergency situations.

"We have spoken to the

government about this problem but they say supplying electricity to the Royal

Palace, and the residences of government members is more important."

Noung Heng, 50, who accompanied her daughter to the hospital for a

stomach operation said: "My daughter did not get one drop of water from the

hospital, we had to buy it from outside as she stayed there for over a week.

"The electricity was often off for over half the day and the medicine my

daughter was given was very poor quality and inappropriate, the same color cheap

pills each day."

In a bid to attract international donors Phan last year

renamed the hospital "The King Sihanouk Hospital" on the advice of the last

Russian expert who left in 1991. The expert feared donors may not give if they

thought the hospital was controlled by Russians.

The hospital, in the

Southeast of Phnom Penh, was built in the 1960's and designed for 500 patients.

Phan said: "By the early 1970s it was regarded as the best hospital in Phnom


"Now only the very poor who cannot afford to go elsewhere come

here. Our fees are much cheaper than other hospitals. It's the worst hospital in

Phnom Penh."


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