Progress Swallows Hospital

In a country where health care is at a premium, road repairs and lower fees have made Preah Si­hanouk Hospital more accessible to patients. But the recent boom in babies born there—deliveries in­creased 20 percent be­tween June and August—has burdened an already over-taxed and under-equipped maternity ward.

Hospital officials credit the re­pairs to Yothapol Khemarak Phou­min Boulevard, or Street 271, as well as lower fees compared to other city hospitals, for August’s total of 90 births, a substantial in­crease over the 66 babies born in June.

“The restoration of the road down here is very helpful to our hospital,’’ said Dr Leang Chan­rith, a German-educated physician who heads the hospital’s maternity section.

The road, which runs along the top of the dike that encircles the southern part of the city, had been in poor condition due to heavy truck traffic. The recent re­pairs involved filling in ruts and potholes with earth, although the surface remains unpaved.

Leang Chanrith said with the re­­pairs made the road, more pa­tients are coming to Preah Si­hanouk Hospital, which is also known as the Russian Hospital.

Also, the hospital, which was built and equipped by the Russian government, charges $30 per de­livery, compared to $50 charged at the Calmette and Japanese hospitals.

But Leang Chanrith said Preah Sihanouk Hospital, which has received very little financial support for the past decade, is not as well-equipped as the other two, which are supported by the French and Japanese governments.

For example, the maternity section has no fetal monitoring equipment, but must make do with equipment supplied by Russia in the 1980s.

The doctor noted the government has indicated more money will be spent on health care in 2001, and has targeted Sihanouk Hospital and three others for ad­ditional funding.

“It is very unlucky that vulnerable people who are born poor re­ceive such poor treatment,’’ Le­ang Chanrith said. “They deserve to get equally treated by society.’’



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