Two people died and another 24 fell ill in Kompong Chhnang pro-
vince after they reportedly tried to medicate themselves with traditional herbs, local hospital officials and police said Tuesday.
A 25-year-old woman, Ya Y Kak, died on her way to Kompong Ch-
hnang Provincial Referral Hospital on Feb 15, her brother Ya U Mert, 19, died Sunday at the hospital, Morm Malai, the hospital’s information officer said.
“The two died after they took a kind of herbal roots,” he said, add-
ing that 20 people were hospitalized Monday for treatment and another four were set to be admitted.
Morn Malai said health workers are still investigating the incident but suspected villagers were poisoned by local herbs.
Health workers said they be-
lieved many villagers in Chhuk Sar, Kompong Tralach district, were initially feeling weakened and suffered from swelling due to Vitamin B1 deficiency—a common ailment in rural areas.
The villagers were poor and thought they could not afford treatment at public health clinics, so they instead chose to use traditional herbs collected in the forest.
After consuming the herb they felt worse, suffering from numbness in their limbs caused by drinking too much of the herb brew, ac-
cording to Morm Malai.
The villagers, still wary of going to a health clinic, then turned to a supposed traditional Khmer medi-
cinal herb, of which they drank so much that it seriously poisoned them and proved fatal for two of them, he said. The villagers did not realize that Ya Y Kak’s death last month was related to the herbs, and continued to take them.
Kompong Tralach district dep-
uty police chief Srey Ra said the victims’ family told him the two suffered chest pains, numbness and swelling of limbs, and stiffening of neck and tongue after taking the herb. Other villagers also suffered from numbness and swelling of the limbs, he added.
Morn Malai said poor people can get treated for free at local clinics if they tell doctors they are very poor, but many of them did not know this.
Sam Chankea, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said it is difficult for poor people to get treatment, as doctors often discard poor patients because they cannot pay them despite medical care being officially free for the poor.