Preah Sihanouk Resident Gives Birth Outside Empty Health Center

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Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kouch Chamroeun hands over an envelope in relation to the birth of a child outside a public health facility. (Preah Sihanouk provincial administration)
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A Preah Sihanouk resident gave birth to a baby outside a public health facility after the couple were unable to reach any health officers at the empty center. 

Nhor Phal, 39, went into labor early April 17 in Preah Sihanouk’s Keo Phos commune, said her husband Sut Vun, and when they reached Stung Hav district’s Keo Phos health center there was no one on-call. He found a few numbers listed at the center but had little luck getting hold of health workers. 

“I talked to a doctor and they said they were in Kampot and not at work but would give me another number to contact another doctor,” he said, adding that he had no luck contacting any other health official.

In a state of panic, he called his mother, who is a midwife, to assist in the birthing process, also calling Pheng Min, Keo Phos’s commune chief, to help them.

“I was very panicked and worried as there was nobody there who I could ask for help. It was very very quiet there,” Vun said.

“I was glad that I called the Keo Phos commune chief and his assistant and they came to help us otherwise it will be finished as there was no one at the hospital.”

So charged was the experience that Min, the commune chief, asked the couple to name the child after him. The commune chief also gave them $100, with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kouch Chamroeun giving them $500 and $300, respectively. 

A post from the provincial administration website on April 18 said that Chamroeun had ordered action against six health workers at the center. It was unclear if action was taken against them because a provincial spokesperson and health department official could not be reached or refused to comment this week.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Pheng Min’s name.

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