The Lake Clinic - providing primary care to isolated floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia
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CONTEXT: One of the most isolated areas in South-East Asia is the Tonle Sap Lake region in Cambodia. Scattered throughout the lake are remote fishing villages that are geographically isolated from the rest of the country. ISSUE: Receiving health care at a clinic or hospital often involves a full day of travel from the Tonle Sap Lake region, which is unaffordable for the vast majority of residents. INTERVENTION: The Lake Clinic (TLC) is a non-government organization established in 2007. In 2008, a ship was built that was designed for transport of a medical team and supplies to provide primary care to the fishing villages. Initially the project started with one team serving seven villages. TLC has since expanded to two full teams serving 19 villages. TLC provides adult and pediatric primary care, vaccinations, dental services, eyecare services, antenatal care and health education free of charge. From 2008 to 2012, there were a total of 13 160 pediatric visits and 17 722 adult visits. In addition to these services, 739 patients received dental care, 346 patients received eye care, there were 1239 antenatal visits, 116 family planning visits, and 1600 patients received health education. In total, 130 patients were referred to hospitals or health centers for a higher level of care. A total of 6627 immunizations were provided. The most common pediatric illness was upper respiratory infection (44.4%), and the most common adult illness observed was gastritis (20.6%). LESSONS LEARNED: Despite the challenges, TLC has been able to achieve a significant goal: to provide primary care medical services to a remote area of Cambodia where no medical services were previously available. TLC strives to strengthen healthcare delivery with the goal to provide the best possible care in the region. New partnerships have allowed laboratory capacity and a formalized hospital referral system for pediatric patients beginning in 2014. A new boat, which completed construction in December 2013 and is now fully operational, has allowed the TLC team to reach a greater number of patients more efficiently.
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