Cambodia is still suffering from the aftermath of the bloody civil war which lasted almost 30 years. Particular during the four year tyranny of the communist Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, at which time the countryâs intellectual elite were systematically annihilated, around two million people were killed, almost a fifth of the population at that time. Not until 1999 did hundreds of thousands of Khmer who had fled to Thailand return to their destroyed country. As a result of the elimination of academic potential, up until today there is still a lack of qualified personnel in commerce and administration as well as in the field of education and healthcare. Only 50 of the then around 1.000 existing Cambodian doctors survived the genocide.
Despite its constant economic growth, Cambodia is still one of the least developed countries in Asia. More than one third of the population still lives below the poverty line. This means that around five million Cambodians must survive with an income of less than one US dollar per day.
Health Care Situation
The Cambodian health care system is classed as being one of the most underdeveloped systems in South East Asia. Particularly in rural areas in which 84% of the population live, hospitals and health clinics are in a desolate condition. The main causes are the lack of technical and material equipment, insufficiently qualified medical staff and a lack of staff in general.
- The resulting consequences are:
- Lack of trust in public health facilities. Only 18,5 percent of all patients use the governmental health facilities. However for most people medical treatment in private facilities is unaffordable.
- High costs for medical treatment in relation with the loss of income during the illness are major causes of impoverishment of many families in Cambodia. Many people are forced to sell their houses or cattle in order to afford medical care.
- Cambodia has one of the highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates in Southeast Asia. The child mortality rate is at 90 deaths per 1.000 live births (UNICEF 2008). Maternal mortality is at 540 deaths per 100.000 births.
- Malnutrition of women and children is another major challenge. According to UNICEF 42 percent of all children under five years of age are chronically malnourished.
- Cambodia is the country with the highest HIV infection rate in Asia. According to UNAIDS, currently more than 130.000 people are infected with the virus. Ten thousands of Cambodian children are directly confronted with the tragic consequences of the disease. They have to witness how their parents fall ill and die of AIDS. Many of the children are themselves HIV positive.