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Compassionate healthcare and purposeful innovation for Cambodia’s children

Training and Empowering Local Healthcare Workers: Q&A with a Health Centre Chief

Community, Education, Health System Strengthening

Khna Po is a rural health centre in Sotnikum Operational District, approximately 40km from AHC. For two years, AHC’s Health System Strengthening team has been providing support and training to staff at the Khna Po Health Centre.

Tep Ratanak, a registered nurse, is Khna Po’s Health Centre Chief. We asked Ratanak how the ongoing support from AHC has affected knowledge, capacity and care at his health centre in this Q&A.

Traditionally, what has paediatric care been like in your community?

Many, if not all caregivers, do not bring their children to us until their condition is severe and too late for us to provide any meaningful care. This means we need to refer the patient to the referral hospital. On top of this, many parents have often left to find work in other areas, namely Thailand or in Siem Reap, leaving children with grandparents or older family members. These grandparents have a limited knowledge when it comes to good health (related to nutrition, hand hygiene and taking care of babies) and are not always able to identify when to bring the child to the health centre.

What have you and your team learnt from the HSS team?

Over the past year or two the team have provided us with training on a number of topics that are relevant to our health centre and that affect children in our area, including dengue fever, neonatal resuscitation and good referrals, while also filling any gaps in knowledge related to child health.

“They’ve helped us to provide better health education to the parents and caregivers in the community and those that bring their children to the health centre, helping them to lead healthier lives and to reduce the amount of sickness.”

The team has returned often for follow-up visits to provide further coaching and training, giving advice related to how to properly implement activities – this has really helped staff to increase their confidence. When they came originally, they checked what essential equipment we needed and provided it to us with training, now when they come they come they monitor how we are using and storing the equipment, giving us advice when we need it.

Waiting room at Khna Po health centre

How has the Health System Strengthening training impacted your work?

The training was really important for us as it gave us the knowledge we needed to provide neonatal resuscitation and other skills related to child health. This was especially important for our midwife as it gave her the skills that she needs to support mothers and children when delivering babies. In the past, the government has also provided courses about neonatal resuscitation, but through AHC’s Satellite Clinic we received the most up to date knowledge and techniques that have allowed us to provide more appropriate care.

“We now know the techniques and practices to provide resuscitation to a range of age groups, from newborns to babies and children, we also know how to properly wrap a newborn baby, something no-one had ever taught us before.”

It’s been very important for my staff to learn and to apply their new knowledge and techniques into their practice with patients, especially in consultations. As health centre chief, I haven’t needed to encourage them to use their new skills in their work, their enthusiasm and confidence has meant they don’t need encouragement to change. They know their responsibilities clearly and know if there’s a complicated case that I am either there to support them as well as the procedures for safely referring patients.    

What do you hope for the future of paediatric care at your health centre?

I’d like my staff to continue training and learning new things from the AHC team that will allow them to build their capacity further, we also welcome more equipment and training to allow us to do more here. It has been very useful that the HSS team has provided training and ongoing cooperation with our health centre. There has been no pressure on us every time the team has come, they have been friendly, cooperative and professional when working with my team. The knowledge we’ve gained has been very important for our work and has helped us to provide a better service to our patients. Thank you for the donors for allowing us to start this collaboration and we wish that it can continue into the future!

Ways You Can Help

Ongoing support from donors and volunteers allows us to continue to deliver high quality medical care to children affected by disease and poverty in Cambodia.