Mental Health Care in Cambodia is in poor shape – but rapidly improving. There are just 40 psychiatrists in the country treating tens of thousands of patients.
The people of Cambodia suffered immense trauma during the Khmer Rouge rule and are in desperate need of help to deal with the deep traumas that they suffered. But as recently as 1993, there wasn’t a single mental health professional in Cambodia to help with those who were not coping well with their past. During the Khmer Rouge rule, some 1.7 million people were killed. The survivors had to endure a devastated health system.
Then things changed, with support from the University of Oslo, the Cambodian Ministry of Health set up a mental health system from scratch. Now the Ministry is overseeing a mental health training programme and a clinic.
In this film we meet some of the graduates from the scheme and also some of their patients and find out what sort of problems they are facing.
Professor Thida was in the second class of graduates. And she’s not short of work. Each morning at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh ten psychiatrists have to cope with the crowds of patients and their relatives. The clinic is the largest of its kind in Cambodia. Yet the patients keep on coming. Tens of thousands of patients are seen each year. But to serve a population of over fourteen million people there are still just 40 psychiatrists.
The programme has a long way to go but at least some help is being given and the system is improving every day.