W AR victims in Phnom Penh's Military Hospital are complaining of insufficient
medicine and care, as outside aid only slowly filters into the ailing
The hospital has been packed with injured soldiers, many of
them landmine victims, following an upsurge in fighting in northern Cambodia
over recent months.
Siem Reap soldier Chum Reun, 31, who lost his right
leg while fighting the Khmer Rouge about 25km north of Anlong Veng last month,
complained that medicine was scarce and services inadequate at the military
He said that the stump of his leg was only washed and dabbed
with a little antibiotic every two or three days.
When the Post spoke to
him, he said he had been given an injection of penicillin several days earlier,
but had received nothing more to reduce his pain and prevent any
"I asked for some tablets but they said that my wound did not
[require] any because it is not serious.
"I don't know. I lost my leg and
they still say that it is not serious. I am losing weight."
director Keo Try said the Ministry of Defense was in charge of providing medical
supplies and maintenance to the hospital but a lack of funds hindered
The hospital depended on whatever the ministry had, and medicine
and equipment shortages were routine.
"If they had more and provided
more, we would treat our patients quickly but if they provide a little, we take
a long time to cure them.
"It is a problem but I don't think [it is] much
of one for us...we still treat our patients."
The hospital also faced
problems with its water, electricity and sewage systems. The sewage and water
pipes were heavily damaged, and electricity was often cut off.
patients, sometimes, use their own gasoline lamps.
"I have urged EDC
[Electricite du Cambodge] to provide enough power supplies because we very much
need it...but they said that our ministry is always late to settle the
There was also a shortage of space at the hospital, which, though
designed for 500 beds, has had to cope with 700-900 patients. Many of them have
to lie on the floor in wards and hallways.
However, some assistance is
beginning to flow into the hospital.
Keo Try said the Ministry of Defense
was giving $600,000 for repairs to three of the hospitals buildings. The
maintenance, begun last July, was yet to be completed.
government had provided $1 million, from outside the Defense budget, for the
purchase of surgical and laboratory equipment. The gear had been ordered from
France, but it was not known when it would arrive.
Some medicine had been
donated by the International Red Cross Committee and the Japan Sotoshu Relief
Amputees were being referred to the Cambodia Trust's limb
project at Calmette Hospital, the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation's Kien
Khleang facility or Wat Than to be fitted with artificial limbs.
Trust's Chief Prosthetist, Terry Nother, said some 906 amputees had visited its
limb project in March - compared to 74 in January and 88 in February.