Friday, October 24, 2008

Tubing in Laos and healthcare in Cambodia

This English lady came into the shop and told me she had hurt her foot while tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos. Tubing is where you sit on an inner tube (the inside of a tractor tire) and float down a river while stopping at bars along the way. I have never done it but plan to--it sounds like fun!

Except for a couple of caveats: don't get too drunk and drown and don't miss your last stop.

This customer told me if you miss your stop you may get lost, so you need to look out for the very last stop sign. She also said if you float too far from the river bank, don't worry because small Laotian children will dive in and haul you back.

You can read about tubing here watch a video of it on youtube.

Anyway, so this customer scraped her foot during the water ride. She did not see a doctor in Laos, only when she got to Siem Reap because by then her foot had become inflamed. She went to the Royal Angkor International Hospital.

She paid USD260 for the first visit to the doctor--USD100 for consultation alone. Thereafter she had to go back everyday to get her wound dressed and each visit was USD36. She went back twice before deciding it was not worth the money, since all the nurses do is clean the wound with saline and apply antibiotic cream. She figured she could do it herself since you can get these things cheap at pharmacies all over town.

Luckily this young woman has travel insurance. Imagine paying USD400 to fix a scrape! I asked if the international hospital employs Western doctors--is that why it is so expensive? She said only Asians tended to her, although she is not sure where they are from. So anyway expect these prices if you visit an international hospital in Siem Reap.

At the other end, Cambodians pay 5000 riels (USD1.25) for a consultation with a local doctor in a clinic. You wonder if the doctors are any good since corruption taints everything in this country.

However, I think Khmers themselves know when a doctor is good because you can tell from results. Khmer doctors also do not need to have a degree, in my opinion, because they learn from experience. And in this regard they are sometimes better than Western doctors, especially when it comes to local diseases. To give you an example, when we lived in Phnom Penh I used to take my dogs to a Khmer vet who has had no formal education. But because Parvo virus is common in Cambodia, he managed to save Austin simply because he has dealt with so many similar cases (Parvo survival rates for puppies, Rottweilers and Dobermans are 30-50%). A Western vet who has had little experience in Parvo, on the other hand, may not be as well-placed to care for the animal. Although I am sure Isabell, our German vet here in Siem Reap, would disagree!


bathmate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

I am a former patient at the royal angkor international hospital in siem reap. I can not believe that you are comparing an unqualified vet to a doctor. I take your comment that a vet or doctor for that matter may be able to diagnose local diseases quickly and correctly. However when I had an accident in Siem Reap and subsequently broke 6 bones in my body I would highly recommend royal angkor international hospital.

As my travel insurance was void (as happens in a lot of cases) I would have had to pay $22,000 to be air lifted to Bangkok Hospital,plus medical charges. The Doctors that work there are Thai, Filipinos, and internationally qualified Khmer doctors, their perfectionism and conduct is great, level of English is high and the wards/rooms are very clean.

I accept that it is an expensive hospital but you must remember that the drugs prescribed in this hospital are imported from Thailand and are not from the pharmacies on the street, and when being injected with various drugs, personally I would prefer internationally tested, genuine ones.
All of the equipment in the hospital is of very high standard, not seen anywhere else in siem reap.

Would you let an unqualified 'doctor' operate on you?

In conclusion, if I had a minor injury, such as your customer i have no problems with going to a 'local' doctor or clinic such as ''rasmey clinic' (national route 6) but having been to both. I wouldn't have surgery anywhere in siem reap but R.A.I.H.

In emergencies The Angkor Children hospital do accept adults (for a fee)

Diana Saw said...

Lucky you. My experience taking a tourist to the hospital was a disaster.

A high price is not always indicative of quality.

Still, it is good to know the hospital is not completely incompetent.

Like many expats living in Siem Reap, we take our business to Ly Srey Vina. Thanks for the tip on the Angkor Hospital for Children. Good to know there are options.


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