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Soldiers upset at medical care

Soldiers upset at medical care

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

institution.

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

hospital.

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

infection.

"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."

Hospital

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

both.

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.

"Our

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

bills."

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.

Meanwhile, the

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

Committee.

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.

Cambodia

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.

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