Once upon a time, there were mines everywhere in Cambodia. Yet life had to go on.
Despite the risk, millions of rice farmers continued to walk several thousand steps a day to paddy fields laden with landmines everywhere – to plough the soil, sow seeds, irrigate the fields and harvest the grains. Soon the deminers moved in, working tirelessly day after day to find and detonate the hidden explosives. Today, the mine fields have been largely cleared. Most places in Cambodia are now declared safe to live or step on.
While Cambodia may receive a clean bill of health, the health status of many Cambodians is like their land 50 years ago. There are “mines” everywhere in their body and mind, waiting to explode anytime, anywhere.
Infections such as TB, malaria, typhoid and AIDS; worm infestation, poor nutrition, alcoholism, cancer, metabolic diseases, psychological diseases, and so on, are the hidden “mines” that need to be uncovered and removed. Otherwise, we are waiting for them to explode.
In the body, it may mean a heart attack with a 50 percent chance of dying or cancer with very low chance of survival. In the mind it may mean depression, perhaps, leading the sufferers to commit suicide.
Am I making a sweeping statement? NO. Let me substantiate them with some eye-catching statistics.
Some people must see the hard facts to be nudged out of their state of denial. Nevertheless, I have a far more important reason to show these facts. I believe that all war commences in the human mind. Thus, the people of this kingdom – policy makers, health professionals, educators and laymen – need to see them, to shake up their mind a little and to initiate a war against their poor standard of health.
1. Approximately two-thirds of all Cambodians carry the TB bacterium, one of the highest rates in the world, and some 13,000 Cambodians die annually from the disease.
2. National health indicators:
a. Neonatal mortality rate (18 per 1000 live births) (2014)
b. Under-5 mortality rate (35 per 1000 live births) (2014)
c. Maternal mortality ratio (170 per 100 000 live births) (2014)
The rates are 3.9, 7.68 and 40 respectively in Malaysia which are 4 to 5 times better.
But over the past 15 years, the health status of Cambodians has improved significantly due to structural reforms carried out by the government to meet the health-related Millennium Development Goals.
Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go. Cambodia is still lagging far behind other countries in Asean.
Let us for a start wage a new war, a wholesome one this time – the war against sub-standard health. Such war has to start with health education and health promotion.
Cambodians must understand that good health is their greatest asset. Indeed, health is the greatest wealth. Without good health, how can one enjoy one’s wealth. We ought to realise that every aspect of our life and development are inter-related. They are one and inseparable.
Health must NOT be neglected. Let us do whatever that is need to be done before the hidden “mines” in us start exploding. These “mines” within our body and mind must be removed.
The great secret to good health is to know your own health, get treatment for any existing diseases, remove all looming risks and enjoy good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Victor Ti, MD, MFAM (Malaysia), FRACGP (Australia), Dip P Dermatology (UK), Dip STDs/AIDS (Thailand) is an experienced specialist generalist (family physician) of BH Clinic, Phnom Penh. As a specialist generalist, he is skillful at diagnosing all general diseases and excluding the sinister ones. Apart from general diseases, Dr. Ti is also known for his skill in skin diseases, sexually transmitted diseases and minor surgery. He can be contacted via messenger m.me/bhclinic1 or Tel: 023900446.