Doctors from the locally-run People’s Health Consulting Association and Mercer University in the US are in the process of making and fitting free prosthetic limbs for disabled persons in the Preah Vihear National Assembly Office.
Having handed over more than 100 prosthetic limbs over the first three days from June 12-14, doctors will continue to make another 110 artificial arms and 500 artificial legs for further 610 disabled persons until the conclusion of the project on June 24.
“Today is the third day, with 114 people with disabilities – more men than women, with 106 males and eight females – having come here,” Dr Prum Polin told The Post on June 14.
Haut Lang, a 24-year-old disabled man who lost his left leg 17 years ago, said: “I am very happy and thankful to the association for providing me with a new prosthetic leg so that I can have greater independence and travel more easily.”
Before fitting the prosthesis, Dr Polin said the medical teams ask questions and carry out an examination, measuring limbs for the prosthesis to fit correctly, while enquiring about the individual’s expected use. They also ask about the patient’s history, such as how long they had been disabled and how it occurred, as well as whether they had any health issues.
The doctors inform the patient – most disabled by landmines – about the technical specifications of the prosthesis to help them adapt to it.
“Most of the patients have lost limbs due to landmines laid during the war, but we also see other causes such as birth defects, road accidents and other incidents. But we do not focus on any context, as long as they come, we will help them” said Dr Phan Sok Heng.
Dr Polin said 20-25 Cambodian doctors, who, unable to remain every day, worked in rotation, and 46 from the US took part in the project in Preah Vihear province. There were also doctors from nearby provinces, including Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Stung Treng, Kratie and Oddar Meanchey.
“We are very happy to be able to make life easier for people with these prosthetic limbs, giving them greater independence. The materials from the US we use are all very good, as are the specialist doctors.
“We start making the prosthetic limbs from 7am to 11:30am, and then in the afternoon from 2pm to 5pm. We are sometimes still making them until 7pm or 8pm at night because they have to be custom fitted and the patients cannot wait,” Dr Polin said.
The project is part of the charitable work carried out by the People’s Health Advisory Association, which has a partnership with doctors from Mercer University, he added.
“As we have a lot of teams of foreign doctors, the Cambodian doctors have been involved in helping coordinate the work,” Dr Polin said.
The first project in Preah Vihear carried out in 2019 saw Dr Tha Kol make prosthetic limbs for more than 70 people with disabilities over three days. While it was postponed from 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project has returned this year and been extended to 15 days.
“For the future, we are yet to make a clear plan for how many times a year we will run the project. But we will look at the reality of the situation and make a decision accordingly,” Dr Polin said.