In a corner of her wooden house, 18-year-old Dam Siv Lean is breast-feeding her three-day-old baby boy. When asked about her treatment at the health center, she smiles and says, “The nurses were nice. Their kind words calmed me down when I was in so much pain.”*
Siv Lean went to Pechreada Health Center in Mondulkiri province to deliver her first child. Her family belongs to the Punung ethnic group, and they are among the poorest in their community. They grow their own rice, but this only feeds the family of five for a few months. Siv Lean and her husband work as day laborers for their neighbors when they have the opportunity, making about US$5 per day.
Due to their low income, Siv Lean’s family got an identification card for the poor, which allows them to access resources from the Health Equity Fund (HEF) for free medical treatment. The HEF covered all her delivery expenses at the Pechreada Health Center. Without this fund, she would have borrowed from local money lenders at a very high interest rate.