Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Breaking traditional barriers to improve maternal and child health in rural Cambodia

By Kong Vanny and Ariel Hofher

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Kong Vanny
Tong Soun (first right) with her 4-month-old baby in Kouk village, Ratanakiri province.

Under the shade of a large tree, Tong Soun carries her 4-month-old baby in a colourful shawl. They live in the remote village of Kouk, 620 kilometres from Phnom Penh in the distant north-eastern province of Ratanakiri.

Kouk village is located in the rural district of Ou Chum, where access to health services is extremely limited, especially for expecting mothers. Aside from limited services, many people in Ratanakiri maintain the belief that traditional birth attendants, who usually have not received formal medical training, are a better option than skilled midwives in a hospital or health centre.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Case Study: WASH infrastructure, education is improving health of rural school community in Rohal village

By Margaret Fenton

Student at Rohal Primary School exiting the latrine facility that UNICEF and partner organization ESC-BORDA installation.
© UNICEFCambodia/2015/Margaret Fenton

Cambodia continues to struggle to provide access to clean water and sanitation facilities, one of the key determinants of household health. While 82 per cent of people in urban areas have access to hand washing and latrine facilities, only 25 per cent of rural Cambodians do, covering a mere 37 per cent of the total population. Access to sanitation facilities, as well as knowledge of good hygiene practices, can drastically reduce exposure to severe childhood illnesses, particularly diarrhoea. Sanitation coverage in Cambodia is poor with 66 per cent of rural families practicing open defecation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Severe acute malnutrition in Cambodia: Victories, challenges and a fresh approach

By Arnaud Laillou, Megan Gayford and Samoeurn Un

Eighteen-month-old Pheap Maneuy with her mother at their home in Kon Ka Ek Village, Battambang Province
©UNICEF Cambodia/Laillou

Eighteen-month-old Pheap Maneuy had a good start in life. She was exclusively breastfed for six months, in line with UNICEF and World Health Organization guidelines. But things started to change once her mother introduced solid foods. “She didn’t eat much of the porridge that we prepared, but we thought it was enough,” says her mother, Mean Sokmom, who is 27.  

In early 2015, Pheap was identified as severely malnourished during a routine screening at the community health centre. As she had no medical complications, Pheap received her treatment – several nutrient-dense, vitamin-rich bars known as BP-100 – and went home. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

From river water to safe drinking water

By Jeremiah Rogers

Touch Bunthorn and his wife at their home in Preaek Koy Commune, Kampong Cham Province
© Lien Aid/2015

“My grandsons no longer wake up in the mornings with stomach pain. The treated water has improved my whole family’s health.” Life has changed for Touch Bunthorn since a UNICEF-supported community water treatment plant opened in his village in November 2014. Previously Bunthorn had relied upon boiling river water to provide drinking water for his family of ten.

Bunthorn lives in a traditional elevated house along the banks of the Mekong River in Preaek Koy Commune, Kampong Cham Province. He and his family, vegetable merchants at a nearby market, sit around an old wooden table to tell their story. Bunthorn’s family and others in his commune had boiled river water for decades. His family would spend up to six hours every week gathering wood from the surrounding forest for fuel. Bunthorn is pleased that this burden has now been removed. “We save time now because we don’t have to gather wood to boil water,” he explains. “My family can use that time to work, study or relax instead.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Diversion services: what they are and why they matter – Kunthea’s story

By Anna Jolly

17-year old Seng Kunthea learns vocational skills at Marum training restaurant, in Siem Reap province, as part of UNICEF-supported diversion services
© Kaliyan Mith/2015

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, 1 September 2015 – Seng Kunthea* is a 17-year-old girl from Poipet, a town along the border between Cambodia and Thailand. Her parents died when she was very young and she has been living with her grandmother ever since. Kunthea’s elder sister is now married and living in Thailand while her younger brother works in a casino in Poipet. Kunthea never attended school and began working at a very young age.

At the age of 13 she moved in with a family in Poipet to work as a maid. The father in the family started harassing her and eventually tried to rape her. Luckily Kunthea managed to escape and reached out for help to Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre (CWCC) – an NGO that provides support to violence survivors. CWCC was able to help Kunthea by providing couselling services and enrolling her in a sewing course – one of its vocational training programmes designed to facilitate victims’ economic and social reintegration. But when Kunthea’s only friend at the centre graduated and moved to Siem Reap, Kunthea decided to follow her.