05 May 2017
NNHF engagement in Cambodia began in 2011, when Robyn Devenish was granted the NNHF Community Award in recognition of her voluntary dedication to improving care in the country (read the related article). Robyn supported training of healthcare professionals, helped establish a lab and registry, and was together with Prof Chean Sophal a founding member of the Cambodian Haemophilia Association (CHA). The following year, lab technician Sem Samey undertook a NNHF fellowship to improve the quality of diagnosis at the National Paediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh.
But whilst basic care and diagnosis was available to some of Cambodia’s haemophilia population, its reach was limited, with care being centralised in the capital city of Phnom Penh where the country’s only haemotologist – Prof Sophal – was based. A desire to address this need led to the NNHF Cambodia project which began in 2014 under the leadership of Sithan Kong from the CHA.
Improving regional skills and knowledge
The project’s two main streams were to empower patients with haemophilia and raise awareness of the condition to identify more patients and engage authorities, and secondly to train healthcare professionals in provincial hospitals to be able to recognise symptoms and refer potential patients for diagnosis and treatment.
The first activities therefore focused on healthcare professional training in five regions - Siem Reap, Kampong Cham, Takeo, Kampong Thom, and Sihanoukville. 103 healthcare professionals were trained and now have awareness about haemophilia and the skills to provide emergency care. 39 lab technicians from the provincial hospitals in these regions received training and can now join the efforts to improve the diagnosis rate in the country.
Prof Chean Sophal (second from left) and his team from the National Paediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh with NNHF programme manager Sara Motka (fourth from left) meeting in April 2017 to discuss next steps for Cambodia.
Mobilising the community
To empower patients and family members and subsequently increase their engagement with CHA, educational workshops were held, including a self-esteem and stress management workshop, attended by over 300 participants in total. As well as building skills and knowledge to better cope with the condition, these activities aim to mobilise the haemophilia community to amplify efforts to improve haemophilia care.
CHA's president Sem Sokpanha (third from right) project manager Sithan Kong (third from left), Prof Chean Sophal (fifth from right) and the rest of the project team, celebrating the closing of their first project in Phnom Penh in April 2017.
Alongside this, the team implemented awareness raising activities including television and radio broadcasts, and the publication of educational materials to highlight the symptoms of haemophilia. World Haemophilia Day was also a platform for CHA to raise awareness about haemophilia as the event was covered by several local journalists and reporters.
Devising a decentralisation strategy
The importance of teaming up to create change was one of CHA’s key messages on World Haemophilia Day. Prof Chean Sophal from the National Paediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh and Dr Sing Heng from Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap were both part of the celebration, and have committed to a strategy for the further decentralisation of care in Cambodia.
Prof Chean Sophal from National Paediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh and Dr Sing Heng from Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap.