Lack of Funds Stalls Free Ambulance Service

Samu Ambulance Service, which provides care to those unable to afford private services, will close its doors Wednesday because it lacks funds to continue, said a company representative.

“I am worried about the people on the street who will have no ambulance to take them to the hospital,” said Svay Kamol, Samu Ambulance Service project manager. “The number of deaths will increase.”

Svay Kamol said the service is free. If it is no longer available, the only other choice will be expensive, private services that many cannot afford, he added.

Funded by the Cambodian Red Cross and the French Red Cross, the service needs more than $40,000 a year to operate, Svay Kamol said. The funds are no longer available.

Cambodian Red Cross Deputy Secretary General Mguon Sak­hon said requests for aid have been sent to other organizations, but there have been no favorable responses. “It will be a big problem,” said Deputy Traffic Police Chief Sok Sochea. “It will be harder to get victims of traffic accidents to the hospital. The police have no ability to help because we have no ambulances.”

Svay Kamol said both he and representatives from the Red Cross asked the Ministry of Health for help but received no response.

Ministry officials denied hearing about the closure. Minister of Health Hong Sun Huot said Samu Ambulance Service provides a valuable service to the public and should continue, but it is the responsibility of the Red Cross.

“We have a policy to have an ambulance at each hospital and the Red Cross helps us provide services to injured people,” he said. “But the Ministry of Health is not directly involved. Will Samu Ambulance cease? I don’t know.”

The ambulance service began in September 1997 and now has 23 employees. Svay Kamol said the service has helped nearly 4,800 people since it began. (Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)


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