Medics in Missions: Meeting Needs in Cambodia

An estimated two percent of Cambodian physicians survived the Pol Pot era from 1975-1979 leaving the country devoid of much needed healthcare.[1] Today, over 40 years later, there are only five medical schools in Cambodia training healthcare workers to provide treatment for the population of 16 million Cambodians. Many of the privileged and wealthy in society choose to travel to Bangkok or Singapore for medical treatment.

40 Years of medical missions

In 40 years of reaching out to the Cambodian people, OMF Cambodia has included doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives, counselors and other healthcare workers in medical missions in varied placements over the years. From nursing care in the refugee camps in the 1970s to teaching dentistry in a university in the 1990s. From in the 2000s providing leprosy care and medical support with the Prison Fellowship to pediatric surgery in a Christian clinic and Occupational Therapy treatment for children with disabilities in rural Cambodia (2010s); all of these efforts have sought to display Christ’s love in “word and deed” (Colossians 3:17).

Focus 2024

Currently, 12 members of the OMF Cambodia team are medical professionals, all working to fulfill part of OMF Cambodia’s Focus 2024 initiative, the strategic plan to reach Cambodians with the good news of Christ.[2] One of the Focus 2024 aims is to grow disciples in the major professions in society and a crucial element of that is within a healthcare setting. The vision is to see Christian disciples treating patients and demonstrating kingdom values.

Treating feet

Ali Hunt is one of those medical professionals. He works in the diabetes department of a government hospital. As a podiatrist specializing in diabetic foot disease, he treats patients and trains local Cambodian doctors and nurses. He hopes that better treatment of diabetic foot wounds will prevent lower limb loss which leads to a reduced quality of life and eventually to early death. Many patients are surprised to find a barang (a foreigner) treating patients in a government hospital and even more surprised to hear him speak their language. This gives him the opportunity to share something of his faith and the reasons he has brought his young family to live in Phnom Penh. He also has the privilege of mentoring the one Christian doctor in the department and building him up in his faith and medical knowledge.
In a relational society such as Cambodia it takes time to build up friendships and trust. It’s not always easy to challenge current practice in the healthcare system, but God is opening doors for believers to make a difference.
[1] A. Y. Guillou, Medicine in Cambodia during the Pol Pot Regime (1975-1979): Foreign and Cambodian Influences. “East Asian Medicine under Communism: A Symposium,” Graduate Center, City University of New York, July 2004, New York, United States.
[2] Focus 2024 is named after the 50th anniversary of OMF arriving in Cambodia.

Will you pray for Cambodia?

  • Pray for Ali as he seeks to influence the management of diabetic foot disease in the hospital he works in and around the country.
  • Pray for gospel opportunities in the connections he makes with patients and staff.
  • Pray for OMF Cambodia’s Focus 2024 initiative. Pray that they would see followers of Jesus flourishing in professional positions across Cambodia and demonstrating God’s love.

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