Internet Brings Health Care to Poor Village

Rovieng district, Preah Vi­hear province – Thoung Pou says her 10-month-old daughter’s situation would’ve been hopeless without a project to bring expert health care to this remote village through the Internet.

Because of recommendations for treatment given via the In­ternet from doctors at Siha­nouk Hospital Center of Hope and from top doctors in the US state of Massachusetts, Thoung Pou’s daughter was sent to Kom­pong Thom provincial hospital after she was examined Thurs­day.

Doctors, who suspected tuberculosis, said the baby needed to get to a hospital immediately or she would die.

In the landmark telemedicine project, a nurse from Sihanouk Hospital traveled to Robib to examine patients Thursday and Friday. The information collected was transmitted via the Internet to doctors, who then responded with treatment recommendation.

Digital photos were also taken of the patients and sent to the doctors from Sihanouk Hospital and from the US company Te­lepartners, which is staffed by doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

The project was put together by philanthropist Bernard Krish­er, who is also publisher of The Cambodia Daily.

Project participants hope the telemedicine project will be the first step in bringing quality health care to Robib, which only has two medical assistants to treat approximately 4,000 villagers. The nearest hospital is two hours away.

Organizers also say the project shows how the Internet can help poor and developing countries, bridging the digital divide. The per capita annual income in Robib is $37.

For Phang Vannack, a 23-year-old who complained of palpitations, dizziness and shortness of breath, Dr Joseph Kvedar of Telepartners said he suspected valvular heart disease and recommend he get an ultrasound and blood tests.

Internet access already existed in Robib at the Wakako Hironaka School, which was built by Japan Relief for Cambodia with donor money. Children there have a computer room in which the equipment is powered by solar panels and generators.

A donated satellite dish established the Internet link in this village that does not have access to a dependable electricity supply, telephones or a pipe water system.

Robib residents said they were grateful for the help the Internet has provided, although most of the older villagers, including Thoung Pou, don’t understand it.

“I don’t know what the Internet is,” said Thoung Pou. “I just understand that my daughter will be healthy.”


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