Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Medical services on lake speed up

Medical services on lake speed up

The fast new boat, the TLC-4, aka 'The Taxi', moored  at Moat Klas floating clinic.​​
The fast new boat, the TLC-4, aka 'The Taxi', moored at Moat Klas floating clinic.​​ PHOTO SUPPLIED

Medical services on lake speed up

A new high speed boat has joined the flotilla at The Lake Clinic, the health project bringing medical care through the waterways to the floating villages of Tonlé Sap. The Norwegian-designed TLC-4, aka ‘The Taxi’ was built for speed and will enable to doctors to cover more ground and reach their patients faster.

The Lake Clinic, founded in 2007 by former executive director of Angkor Hospital for Children Jon Morgan, already has three boats in operation but with the addition of five floating clinics last year, The Taxi has been designed purely for speed not comfort.

“When The Lake Clinic first became operational we required a boat, TLC-1, that could not only transport staff and materials, but could also serve as a guest house providing privacy, sleeping, toilet, shower, cooking and dining areas,” Morgan says. “In those days the clinical staff used to work in whatever communal space was available in our target village – sometimes a pagoda, a school, or the house of the village chief, wherever was large enough to set up tables and chairs for the doctor, nurse, midwife and registrar.

“In 2012, with money from Impact Norway and Kids International Development Society, we constructed five floating clinics – four on the lake, and one on the Stung Sen River in Kompong Thom. These clinics provide both working and living space, and with them in place we no longer needed the comfort provided by TLC-1.”

Built therefore specifically for fast transportation, The Taxi travels at speeds of up to 30kph, as opposed to the 10-12kph reached by TLC-1. This means the medical team can dedicate more time to seeing patients, rather than travelling to them.

Morgan says The Taxi’s interior is rather Spartan. He adds, “but it can be configured to carry a staff of up to 10 people and supplies, or 15 people as passengers.’

Jon Morgan gets ready to set sail on the Tonle Sap.​​ PHOTO SUPPLIED
Jon Morgan gets ready to set sail on the Tonle Sap.​​ PHOTO SUPPLIED

There are two clinical teams – the Lake Team on Tonlé Sap, and The River Team on Stung Sen River. Both teams have a doctor, two nurses, a midwife, a registrar for medical records, and a boat’s pilot. A dental nurse and a cook are shared between the teams and all are Khmer.

The 14 metre by 3.3 metre Taxi is a catamaran powered by two Yanmar diesel engines. Designed in Norway, it was built in Phnom Penh by Southeast Asian Fabricators, and Morgan says it was “a work of the heart” for everyone involved.

It was meant to have surface-piercing propellers, but a funding shortfall mean the clinic had to opt for the “local solution of two long-tails.”

“We hope to raise funds someday to change to the original specifications,” Morgan says, “as that will increase the speed and reduce fuel consumption.”

In addition to TLCs 1 and 4, there are two other boats which Morgan describes as work horses.

One is a small runabout that carries three people plus the pilot, and the other is used primarily as a tow boat for moving the clinics. Floating villages move five or six times a year, and the boat gets a workout moving five clinics.

The Lake Clinic sees around 200 cases a week, providing regular service to eight villages on the Tonlé Sap – all of them remote, off the tourist trail and several hours or even over a day away from the nearest doctor. It also services a village on the Stung Sen that is cut off from roads for most of the year.

Cases range from the common cold to chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

“The nearest village is 30km from a paved road,” Morgan says. “The most isolated village is almost 100km from a paved road. We see everything, from runny noses to trauma, from children needing immunisations to chronic disease in the adults and the elderly.

“In fact, after providing routine care in these villages for almost six years, the number of chronic disease patients is climbing. This is one reason I feel negatively about groups of well-meaning, and sometimes well-funded people who do a "shotgun approach" to medicine. They come and go… maybe once, maybe again next year. Good medical care demands consistency. It requires complete medical records. The Lake Clinic returns to these villages on a regular schedule, and people can count on us, they can trust us.”

MOST VIEWED

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does