Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Time running out for MSF in Takeo

Time running out for MSF in Takeo

Time running out for MSF in Takeo

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

municipality.

"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

drugs.

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.

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