Cambodia – Journey to Phnom Penh

Cambodia – Journey to Phnom Penh

I am currently in Cambodia for a yogic journey to Siem-Reap to benefit Somaly Mam Foundation, and am enjoying the opportunity to explore additional ways to help hands-on. Today, I am going to Phnom Penh to meet with Denise Love (pictured below on left), founder of Women’s Health Cambodia, with ambitions of organizing a group of acupuncturists to go there and teach basic acupuncture skills to the midwives.

From the Women’s Health Cambodia website:

Challenges in Cambodia

Giving birth or “Crossing the River” in Cambodia is regarded as one of the most dangerous days in a Cambodian woman’s life. Death rates are very high and there is a general lack of understanding about complications and their warning signs.

Domestic violence is very common, sometimes present in as many as 46% of homes in the villages where we work. The limited rights of women in Cambodia often mean that they cannot say no to their husband. This can cause unwanted pregnancies, which often end in abortion, using very hazardous methods.

It is common for a mother to raise a large family, with in some cases as many as 9 children. It is often necessary for mothers to tend to rice fields, on top of the already difficult task of looking after such a large family, as the fathers in these regions can often have a dependency on alcohol. Men often demand sex shortly after birth, which is a big cause of infections.

The extreme poverty in the region often means inadequate nutrition for both a mother and child, and there are rarely funds for emergency care and transport. Flooding often causes a shortage of food supplies, meaning many are malnourished.

Many families are forced to sell livestock to pay for transportation so that women can have a safe place to give birth.

Medical care is limited in rural areas, with no doctors available to support midwives, especially in emergencies.

Haemorrhaging is common during or after birth, which can be fatal without trained health workers or adequate drugs, equipment and facilities to manage the bleeding. Health centres are poorly equipped to care for women with pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.