A Priceless Exercise in Health Care

kompong chhnang province – Phan Ny’s face was still swollen after having five of her lower teeth removed by a dentist the day before, but she went back Thursday.

Despite the pain, the 35-year-old mother said she considered herself lucky to receive free medical care at a temporary clinic set up this week in Kompong Chhnang province, and she hoped to secure the same for her daughter.

“I’m better after they helped me to take [the teeth] away from my mouth,” Phan Ny said, as she waited for her 9-year-old’s exam. “I thank the US Marines, because I did not pay at all.”

Phan Ny was among an estimated 6,000 dental, eye and physical exam patients treated by a team from the Cambodian and US military and local NGOs this week in Kompong Chhnang’s Kompong Tralach district and Kompong Cham’s O’Reang-ou district.

In Kompong Chhnang on Thurs­day, locals came seeking medicine and medical advice for diarrhea, chronic coughs and headaches. About 35 percent of the patients were children, US Army Master-Sergeant Grace De­vera-Montano said.

“I think that this is a very important exercise, and it’s something that’s valuable for the United States as well as for the Cambodian military, and most importantly, for these people who received treatment,” said Piper Campbell, US deputy chief of mission.

Local officials lauded those efforts.

“We are authorities, and we cooperated with the US for helping our poor people here,” said Provincial Deputy Governor Cheng Nhan, as he observed the clinic Thursday morning.

Yet not everyone was as fortunate as Phan Ny and her daughter. There were so many patients, Devera-Montano said, that the clinic ran out of supplies and was forced to turn some villagers away.

“I am so sad because I am late,” said Ban Rekhar, 44. “My house was far from the health care center. I hope they come again and provide more medical care.”


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