Takeo – HIV patients who get free
treatment and drugs from Belgium-based NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres are concerned
about the withdrawal of the organization when its project ends next year.
Ruben Pottier, project
coordinator of Medecins Sans Frontieres, confirmed that the NGO’s contract with
the Ministry of Health to operate chronic disease clinics at Takeo Referral
Hospital was only for
seven years, from 2003 to June 2009.
"After our project is finished,
we will hand over the building to the provincial hospital,” Pottier said. "Our projects will be handled by NCHADS and I
hope they can do it.”
Although the chronic disease
clinic can handle other diseases, Pottier said HIV is its priority mission.
Mean Chhi Vun, at the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD
(NCHADS), dismissed concerns, saying the Ministry of Health has sufficient
pills and human resources to treat patients.
"We provide the services
nationwide, not just in Takeo province, and Medecins Sans Frontieres only
provides services to patients in Takeo,” he said.
Kim Chindamony, medical
supervisor of Medecins Sans Frontieres, Belgium,
said that since it started the clinics it has treated more than 3,000 HIV
patients from Takeo, Kampot, Kandal, Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham and Kampong Speu
provinces, and Phnom Penh
"We understand about their
concern because they trust our services,” Chindamony said. "But I see NCHADS now
has the ability to take over from us.”
He estimated that MSF spends
$3 million per year on its operations.
Chhi Vun said the Ministry of
Health spends about $5 million annually on antiretroviral pills.
"Without proper care and treatment,
HIV patients will die,” said Tit Sambol, coordinator of the People Living with
HIV-AIDS network in Takeo. He said state hospitals pay less attention to HIV
patients than staff at the Takeo MSF project do.
Sambol said that Takeo province
has 2,164 registered HIV/AIDS patients, including 1,200 who receive specialized
In Takeo, these patients
access ARV and opportunistic infection (OI) pills at the province’s referral
hospital, Kirivong district hospital and Ang Roka hospital in Samroang district.
Only the provincial hospital gets
services from MSF; the other two receive services from NCHADS.