Since the very beginning, Reaching Cultures put on the agenda healthcare available to all.
In the beginning it was only possible to make a small difference. Prior to Reaching Culture’s help, Children in the Cambodian Residential Centre had to wait days to be supplied with free basic medicinal such as Paracetamol. The matter escalated when children who could have benefited of simple oral hydration solutions ended up hospitalized awaiting their free treatment.
Sleeping in large dormitories with bunk beds, with few restrooms (proportionally 10 – 12 children per restroom) is the main factor leading to a domino effect when it comes to several transmittable diseases such as red-eye (conjunctivitis), common cold, and flu. These issues need to be either medically treated imminently or ideally prevented. The idea of this project was to address such matters with much delay.
It was then, back in 2014 that Reaching Cultures started supplying the Residential Centre in Phnom Penh, Cambodia funds for a medium sized First Aid kit – enough to supply 60 children. The donation of less than €600.00 yearly made a huge difference in the lives of these children. Small health issues were being treated immediately upon the doctor’s diagnosis and the children’s overall health saw a drastic improvement.
Through the Volunteering Programme and with medical volunteers on board – healthcare had a new perspective. Following the shocking accidental discovery in 2017, that a teenage boy was Hep B+ – it was imminent that children needed blood tests for screening and vaccinations for prevention. It was in our responsibility to safeguard these children and aid those who needed immediate medical attention.
In 2018, all the children and staff at the Residential Centre had to undergo a general blood test and screening for communicable diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis. To our dismay, the majority of children resulted suffering from calcium deficiency – an issue, easily avoided if these children had a glass of milk daily. Hence, Reaching Cultures started the milk project – each child would on a daily basis drink a glass of milk.
In the summer of 2018, thanks to a student medical doctor – all staff and children underwent a general health check. The health check discovered unknown conditions such as respiratory and cardio-malfunction. Some children were then referred to ophthalmologists, others to gastroenterology. Each child and staff with health concerns were directed for further investigations.
No other children were found to suffer from communicable diseases and thus each child, each staff started the vaccination programme. By October 2019 all staff and children at the Residential Centre were vaccinated against Tetanus & Hepatitis B.
In June 2019, the Dental Project was launched – where all 60 children residing at the Residential Centre in Cambodia underwent dental check-ups and issues were tackled accordingly.
The Health Programme is based on 4 main categories:
In Cambodia, there are no actual medical records. Most children do not even possess a birth certificate and thus at times the medical history relies solely on the child’s memory or that of the nanny.
So, following the general check-ups held the notes taken were filed. Any blood test, vaccination or history of disease of the child residing at the centre was listed. The record was set up by a Reaching Cambodia volunteer and the idea is to repeat the drill every 6 months. Frequent medical updates have been possible through medical volunteers travelling to Cambodia with Reaching Cultures.
Vaccinations are not obligatory in Cambodia and often are considered as a luxury reserved for those financially stable. Since protection against diseases is very important, especially in the environment the children live in.
Emergency Medicine Programme
In Cambodia, 7% of children die before their 5th birthday – most times due to illnesses which could be prevented with proper treatment. Unfortunately, in Cambodia, hospitalization and treatment come at a cost which at times the centre cannot afford. Thus, as part of the Medical Project, Reaching Cultures is committed to support the costs of the children in need of such.
Accidents during play and health issues are unplanned and unfortunately arise frequently. These emergencies are covered through a yearly contingency fund for short term medical problems. Whether it is a dog bite, a fall, an infected mosquito bite or the need for spectacles, Reaching Cultures is always there, promptly aiding the kids to help them in the little ways that will eventually improve their wellbeing.
As part of the ongoing project Reaching Cultures is now also promoting the importance of health aiming to prevent diseases and shaping the overall conditions of daily life which will eventually have an impact on the overall health of the children.
The idea, is that through medically oriented volunteers in conjunction with local doctors, the foundation will be giving repetitive teachings regarding first aid, preventive hygiene measures including dental hygiene as well as health education including sexual education. These subjects are still sensitive within such cultures and hence the need for such information amongst the younger generations is of extreme importance.