Speech by Mr Reginald Wee, SIF Division Director (Programmes), at the Launch of the Emergency Medical Care and Management Project in Calmette Hospital, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Professor Kong Sonya, Deputy Director General, Calmette Hospital
Professor Chua Yeow Leng, Group Director, International Collaboration Office, SingHealth
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. Thank you for joining us at the start of the Emergency Medical Care and Management project. This Singapore-Cambodia collaboration aims to promote the cross-cultural exchange of medical expertise to help raise standards of emergency care in Cambodia. It builds on the successful partnership between the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), Calmette Hospital and SingHealth which has concluded. From 2011 to 2014, we had worked with Calmette to successfully trained 558 Cambodian doctors, nurses and physiotherapists from eight organisations in the areas of Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation care.

As with many developing countries that face issues of rapid urbanisation and motorisation, the need for quality integrated emergency medical care is growing in Cambodia. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the number of road fatalities in Cambodia increased by 51 per cent from 2006 to 2014, largely due to an economic boom, increase in registered vehicles and a relatively young population. Cambodian public hospitals such as Calmette Hospital have also experienced a surge in the number of heart attacks, stroke and head trauma cases received in their emergency department and intensive care units. Cambodia’s challenge, as we understand, is a lack of sufficiently trained emergency care physicians to manage such time critical emergencies.

It is our hope that this cross-border collaboration will bring healthcare professionals from both our countries together to address this challenge by sharing knowledge, skills and resources. The SIF and its Singapore International Volunteers or SIVs, Calmette Hospital and SingHealth will work together to enhance the practice of emergency medicine, enabling medical communities here to provide care for an increasing number of patients with acute illnesses or injuries requiring immediate medical attention. Over the next two years, volunteer Emergency Medicine, Emergency Nursing and Allied Health experts from Singapore will help build a pool of 70 Cambodian ‘master trainers’ from five hospitals and a university in Phnom Penh. Together, we will work on how to assess and manage cardiac, neurological emergencies and multisystem traumas; develop multi-disciplinary and integrated treatment plans that include critical care nursing and physiotherapy services. We will also develop standard clinical protocols and processes and revise Clinical Practice Guidelines so that patients might have better chances of survival and recovery.

The 70 ‘master trainers’ will in turn cascade their knowledge to their peers, equipping more individuals with life-saving skills to effectively treat more patients, thereby building capacity and ensuring the sustainability of the programme. There will also be platforms for SIVs with clinician leadership experience to share best practices in the day-to-day management of an emergency department within an in-hospital setting, with their Cambodian counterparts. Additionally, the SIF will support Calmette Hospital in organising a Management of Emergencies Symposia, to raise awareness of emergency medical care within the larger Cambodian healthcare communities, including community health providers.

At the SIF, we connect international communities to enable collaborations and effect positive change. Since 2002, Singaporeans and Cambodians have come together through SIF programmes to cooperate in areas as diverse as healthcare, education and the environment. Through these collaborations, we have not only effected positive change but also strengthened ties and trust between our peoples by working together. This would not have been possible without the commitment of long standing partners such as Calmette Hospital and the University of Health Science. We are also grateful to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, Preah Kossamak Hospital and National Maternal and Child Health Center for their support in this project.

The work of the SIF is made possible because of like-minded collaborators such as SingHealth, who have been partnering us for the past eight years. I would like to convey my sincere thanks to the team of SIVs led by A/Prof Mark Leong, Senior Consultant, Department of Emergency Medicine from SingHealth, who have generously contributed their expertise and efforts to the project. Thank you all for your hand of friendship as we build a better world together.



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