In a bid to assist the Cambodian government in the fight against Covid-19, the Indian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday donated protective supplies to the Chey Chumneas Referral Hospital in Kandal province.

The supplies were handed over by Indian ambassador to Cambodia Manika Jain.

She said India has continued to provide aid to Cambodia since the 1980s and was among the first diplomatic missions to have re-established contact with the Kingdom in the immediate aftermath of the Khmer Rouge.

“In the health sector, India donated a shipload of medical supplies worth $200,000 in 1985-86, most of which are still in use at the Chey Chumneas Referral Hospital until now.

“Through the embassy, the hospital has developed a unique relationship and enduring partnership with the Indian government,” she said.

Jain said during the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) period, India sent three doctors to assist the hospital’s medical staff in treating patients in general medicine, maternity and mental health.

The Indian government, she said, also provided capacity building training to Cambodian healthcare professionals through the International Technical Exchange Co-operation (ITEC) programme.

“In 2013, with the support of the India Brazil South Africa (IBSA) Trust Fund initiated by the Indian embassy in Phnom Penh, India also built a multi-specialty unit to provide comprehensive services for children with neurodevelopmental and mental health problems,” she said.

Dr J Bhoomikumar, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist from India who joined the Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (Caritas-CCAMH) in October 1996, has helped develop infrastructure and capacity building for Caritas-CCAMH staff, making it a premier institution that provides quality medical care for neurodevelopmental and psychological problems.

Today, armed with medical staff that have been trained at numerous prestigious Indian universities, the hospital has been tasked with testing, isolating, quarantining and providing other essential services to returning migrant workers and those who took time off during Khmer New Year.

The authorities have said around 30,000 factory workers throughout the country went on leave during the holidays, despite a government-imposed travel ban during the period to prevent a coronavirus spread in communities.

Of the number, around 15,000 are in Phnom Penh, though the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training said only around 5,000 of them had returned to work after being cleared of Covid-19 following tests and quarantine.

It said the remaining workers did not return either because their factories have suspended operations or they turn to agricultural jobs as the rainy season approaches.

The Ministry of Interior said there were around 90,000 migrant workers returning to the Kingdom after migrant-receiving countries shut their borders amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hospital said the donation of protective supplies and other materials from the Indian government would be of great significance as they fulfill the needs of its health care professionals amid the pandemic.

As of Monday, only two out of a total of 122 Covid-19 patients remained hospitalised, with no new case reported in the last three weeks.