Floating clinics in Cambodia

The Lake Clinic – Floating medical clinics on the vast freshwater lake Tonlé Sap

IMPACT Norway mobilizes resources for projects whose objective is to prevent unnecessary disabilities in developing countries. The Lake Clinic – Cambodia is one of them.

The Lake Clinic offers medical treatment and health education for families residing in the isolated areas of the Tonlé Sap lake and its adjoining rivers. Cambodia is one of the world’s poorest countries, with the Tonlé Sap region being one of the most poverty-stricken in the country. The lack of basic knowledge concerning sanitary conditions and hygiene is one of the main causes of the extensive need for medical treatment in the floating villages. Due to low income, large distances and high fuel costs, many decide against seeking medical treatment. TLC offers these services directly to those in need, completely free of charge.

With its five floating clinics, two medical teams and a new high speed boat, TLC can spread its services to nine villages based on the Tonlé Sap lake and the Steung Sen river. Cambodian doctors, nurses, midwives and supporting staff, in addition to the occasional foreign volunteer health care professional, travel to the clinics to offer professional health care services, outpatient treatment and early detection of illnesses, basic health education, dentistry services and referral to mainland hospitals when needed.

History

The Lake Clinic was founded by Jon Morgan in 2007. A year later, the successful cooperation between TLC and IMPACT Norway began. In the early days, the clinics were positioned at the residence of a private home the doctor’s team visited. Based on the lack of education in the area, the project ‘Village Health Volunteers’ was initiated in 2009. The project consists of one or two volunteers from each village gathering for a weekend seminar in the Lake Clinics office in Siem Reap, receiving education on hygiene, nutrition and pregnancy, amongst others. From there on, they return to their village in order to share this information with the other locals. This gradual change of behavioural patterns has proven to be of high value for both themselves and the employees of The Lake Clinic.

In the beginning of 2013, the clinics were stationed to five villages. November that same year, IMPACTs new combined taxi- and ambulance boat, ‘TLC-4’ was launched. This unique and specialized boat, also dubbed ‘The Taxi’, is designed in Norway with the intention of securing a speedy, safe and quieted transportation of health care professionals and equipment to and from IMPACTs floating health care centres and outpatient clinics. With a width of 3,5 meters (11,5 feet) and a hull that’s about nine meters long (29 feet), it’s a spectacular sight as it glides through the landscape, whether it be low or high tide, slim passageways or violent storms. The glass fibered catamaran hulls will each have a 110 hp diesel engine, and when needs be, function as a high speed water ambulance, shipping the patients to the larger hospitals based on the mainland.