Amidst the prevailing heavy and persistent rains and floodings across Cambodia, Mercy Relief (MR) was in the Baray District of Kampong Thom Province to serve its medium-term sustainable development project to the communities there.  Advisor to MR, Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi and the Cambodian Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Hap Omaly, launched the ‘Healthy Community’ programme at the Baray-Santuk Referral Hospital.

(‘Healthy Community’ addresses child mortality – Mercy Relief’s Advisor Abdullah Tarmugi and the Cambodian Under-Secretary of State for Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Hap Omaly, launching the $180,000 ‘Healthy Community’ project at the Baray-Santuk Referral Hospital.)

The S$180,000 programme, which will run over 10 months, seeks to address the high child mortality rate in Cambodia.  According to a UNICEF study, 1 out of 8 children there barely survives beyond the age of 5.  Lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation are the leading causes of diarrheal diseases in Cambodia, which account for 17% of all deaths of children under 5 years.  Diarrhoea also results in lost labour productivity for adults and missed schooldays for children. The lack of proper and necessary healthcare services, especially in pre-natal care to allow for early detection and intervention of medical complications, also contribute to less-than-healthy newborns.

(Spartanic post-natal ward – A newborn lays on a wooden bed and being protected only by a food cover.)

(Overcrowded wards and rudimentary facilities – Lack of washing facilities and proper sanitation increase the risk of infections amongst patients.)

The Singapore-born humanitarian outfit has embarked on a two-prong approach to tackle the above issues. The first is the ‘curative’ measure – to improve the current healthcare facilities and service at the Baray-Santuk Referral Hospital and the Balaing District Health Centre through the provision of diagnostic & emergency medical equipment and facilities, especially for the Maternity and Emergency wards.  This would allow expecting mothers to monitor the foetal development throughout the different stages of their pregnancies, and if need be, seek necessary and early medical attention, so as to mitigate the risk of complications pre and post natal, for themselves and their newborns.

The second is a ‘preventive’ measure which includes the promotion of good hygiene culture in schools and the communities through the Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) initiative.  Several students from each school have been selected=”true”=”true”=”true”=”true” to be part of the Young Hygiene Ambassadors group to promote the WASH message to their schoolmates and communities.  In tandem, the existing Maternity & Child (M&C) healthcare staff from the referral hospital and district health centre will be further trained to increase their competency level in pre-natal care.  These staff will then be enlisted into the Village M&C Healthcare Volunteer Group to spread awareness among the communities on the importance and availability of better pre-natal care.

MR signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the MRD and is also partnering two other Cambodian ministries – the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports – to allow 230,000 villagers access to better healthcare and hygiene.  Addressing the local community and officials at the Launch ceremony , Mr Abdullah said, “As responsible adults and community leaders, we have to consciously try to mould the landscape and prepare our next generation to face their future. This partnership is committed to not only prevent the child mortality situation from worsening, but it also aims to sow the seeds of improvement of hygiene standards, hence better living and health conditions in the future.”

(Committed to community caring – Mercy Relief’s Chief Executive Hassan Ahmad and the Under-Secretary of State for Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Hap Omaly, penning the 10-month partnership to raise the healthcare standards for 200,000 people in Kampong Thom province.)

MR Deputy Chairman, Ong Bon Chai; Kampong Thom’s Deputy Provincial Governor, Som Sophat, and Singapore’s Deputy Chief of Mission & Counsellor to Phnom Penh, Edgar Pang, also graced the event.

(‘Healthy Community’ addresses child mortality – (From left to right) Mr Edgar Pang, Mr Ong Bon Chai, Mr Abdullah Tarmugi, Mr Som Sophat and Mr Hap Omaly.)

About Mercy Relief

Mercy Relief is a Singaporean humanitarian organisation which engages in both disaster relief and sustainable development programmes. It was established in 2003 as an independent non-governmental humanitarian charity responding to the human tragedies in Asia. Mercy Relief’s aid programme focuses on providing timely and effective assistance to disaster-stricken communities and has maintained the delivery of emergency aid within 72 hours from the point of appeal for assistance.  

In the past 12 years, Mercy Relief has disbursed over S$32 million in aid across 40 disaster relief and 53 sustainable development initiatives. Mercy Relief has impacted an aggregate of 2 million lives in 24 countries and areas, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal,  Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen.

For more information, you may call us at 6514 6322 or email corporateaffairs@mercyrelief.org