Chreav commune, Siem Reap City – When Om Samath arrived at the provincial referral hospital last year to undergo eye surgery, she knew the operation would be performed free of charge.
Two years earlier, her family was identified as one of the poorest in the commune and issued an Equity Card, a perk of the government’s IDPoor program that grants holders access to free treatment at state-run medical facilities.
What the 53-year-old widow didn’t expect was that once the operation was performed, her inability to pay would relegate her to the status of second-class patient for the duration of her two-week recovery. She received a daily food stipend of 5,000 riel, or about $1.25, but no follow-up care.
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