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.
"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