By Soy Sophea
Dr. Jim Gollogly, Chief Executive Officer of the Children’s Surgical Centre (CSC), said his plan is to help Cambodian children for the next 20 years if the Cambodian Ministry of Health will extend a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cover the period. He noted that his centre is currently in the third mandate of a 5-year extension.
He said that his centre is located in Kien Kleang hospital, Russei Keo district of Phnom Penh. It is recognized as the peak organization in Cambodia providing a range of specialized rehabilitation surgical services, medical training and support directly to the people of Cambodia.
Dr. Gollogly said that CSC aims to improve the quality of life for Cambodian children in need by providing rehabilitative surgery and general rehabilitation programs. He added that a central role of this mission is a program to train local surgeons and health workers, focusing on the development of sustainable health services. He added that CSC provides a wide range of surgical services, encompassing facial reconstruction, orthopedic surgery, eye surgery, and plastic & burns surgery.
Dr. Gollogly’s concept is to help Cambodian people and he has been doing so ever since he first came here in 1992 on a mission with American Red Cross. He recalled that during the first mission in Cambodia he found a worrying situation wherein the basics of surgical procedures were largely forgotten.
He remembered the early cases where people were saved from living with the stigma of a disease that was, with the proper care and attention, completely curable. The establishment of his center here in Cambodia gave these people the opportunity to receive care and to resume life free from the blight society so readily imposes on those who carry a physical “blemish”.
“I was shocking to see Cambodian people in rural areas suffering from curable diseases,” he said. “I had to do something for them.”
According to a report available on the CSC website, around 500 million or 12% of the world's population suffer from some form of disability. Disabilities bring misery, reduce economic status, destroy social integration and cause untold suffering through stigmatization and marginalization from society.
In the last 30 years international agencies have made great efforts to assist with health-care in developing countries, focusing on the principles of 'primary health care'; e.g. sanitation, clean water, Maternal Child Health (MCH). However, surgery has been considerably under-emphasized as 'too sophisticated and expensive' for widespread impact.
Dr, Gollogly said that CSC's experience shows that safe, simple surgery is easy to organize, costs a reasonable average of $100 per operation, and is highly effective. The results of successful surgery are beneficial to the patient, gratifying to the surgeon and the technology, whilst perhaps not as advanced as the latest magnetic resonance imagers is practical and dependable.
The costs are sustainable by all developing countries and are similar to the costs for medical treatment of chronic disease. “Our donors are always pleased to sponsor us when the see the cost per operation reasonable and the outcome so successful.”
Dr. Jim added that salaries for employees are not too high and donors are always welcome to contribute to help keep the running expenses under control as it sets about the important business of treating up to 5,000 patients per year.
Kim Yinna, with eight years of nursing experience upon which to base the title Chief of Nursing at CSC, said his centre demonstrates the huge benefits to be gained in promoting simple, safe rehabilitation surgery to developing countries by organizing treatment and training programs. He added that CSC is one of very few organizations promoting this doctrine, and stands almost alone in turning the fine sentiments into practical healthcare for the poor.
“I am happy to be a member of this team as we all contribute to the welfare of our countrymen and women. I have the highest regard for Centers such as these who provide the gift of health freely to those who cannot afford to pay. We provide a full service and the last thing we want our young patients and their parents to worry about is food and accommodation during their hospital visits, so we are able to help them here too.
He continued, “Our work is inspired by the desire to help the less fortunate members of our community. This desire is not unique to the Khmer soul, but is rather a quality of human dignity. Therefore foreign doctors travel to visit us on a regular basis and we are there to provide a suitable environment for them to operate in.”
Emma Levy, Relations Officer at the Children’s Surgical Center, said that it provides general and eye surgery freely to everyone, with non-emergency priority given to those who would find it difficult to pay for treatment otherwise. She too spoke of the pleasure she experienced in this work.
Thong Phoeurng, 70, grand mother to a 20-year-old female patient who has been hospitalized in the centre for 5 months, said that she would have had no hope in finding a cure for her grandchild, had the center not provided free care and accommodation on a daily basis.
“I have stayed and looked after my grand child for 5 months without paying anything,” she said. Her grand child was a victim of a traffic accident in Kampong Chham province.
She said the shattered joints in her right leg were being rebuilt in a process known as anthroplasty and there are high hopes that the young lady will walk again as gracefully as any youth, with perhaps the faintest hint of a limp to show for her traumatic ordeal.
Moul Mon, 55, other patient of the centre, whose right leg was broken in a fall from a palm tree last year, said that he had recently had an operation on the bones. Previously, he held out little hope of ever being able to walk again; but having gratefully handed responsibility for his care over to the center, he was confident that he would be as hale and hearty as ever and was looking forward to climbing more palm trees with a little more care next time.