Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tracking down the 'master of disguise'

Tracking down the 'master of disguise'

Tracking down the 'master of disguise'

Tuberculosis is easily cured by anti-biotics which makes it all the more frustrating

for those fighting the disease.

One of these is Dr Beat Richner of the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital. He receives

five TB sufferers every day.

Recently a 7-year-old girl was admitted with TB Pericarditis, the most serious form

of the disease and the tenth case seen this year at the hospital.

According to Dr Richner these ten cases point to untold numbers of other forms of

TB.

Part of the problem of dealing with the devastating illness is the difficulty in

identifying it.

Dr Richner promoted the use of x-ray machines and was critical of the "spittle

test" method employed by the National Anti-Tuberculosis Center.

"We've had parents [of our patients] who were [TB] positive and the TB center

showed their spittle to be negative," he said.

The disease can also hide itself behind other illnesses, complicating the problem

of detection.

"People are not aware that TB can play the role of all diseases as it weakens

the body," said Richner.

TB often masks itself behind ailments such as diarrhea or a fever but occasionally

it can be something more serious.

The 7-year-old with TB Pericarditis had been diagnosed since birth as suffering from

a weak heart and was first diagnosed by Kantha Bopha as suffering from heart failure.

However, an x-ray and ultrasound revealed the real cause of her illness.

This is the form of TB affecting the outer membrane of the heart - this girl's was

huge, it was surrounded by liquid which had swelled it by 7.5cm.

Dr Richner said basic medical equipment led to a successful diagnosis and the girl

was treated for TB.

Further investigation revealed her whole family was suffering from TB and other family

members were treated at the TB Center.

Richner insists the best way to detect the disease is by an x-ray machine. His hospital

has two machines, one fixed and one portable.

He recommends provincial hospitals buy portable machines which each cost about the

same as three Land Cruisers.

Good medical training and a good laboratory are also essential.

Dr Richner recommends three winning ways to combat TB - a vaccination program to

stop new cases, all victims to be treated and finally for the economy to improve.

He is adament that the disease is one of poverty contracted by close proximity to

sufferers and he insists it cannot be contracted casually through coughing or spitting

on the street.

Many poor families are forced to share rooms and lack a sufficiently healthy diet

which lowers the body's resistance to the disease.

Next month he plans to start a vaccination program to protect 300-500 children daily.

This will give protection from mild forms, although it is not 100 percent effective

against stronger forms of the disease.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports