The Lake Clinic on the Tonle Sap Lake
The Lake Clinic (or TLC as it is known) is a charitable organization set up in 2007 to provide much needed free healthcare and education to the many isolated and impoverished floating communities on the Tonle Sap Lake.
At high water, the lake covers an area of up to 16,000 square kilometres in the centre of Cambodia and more than a million people live in poverty on or around it. Most of them rely totally on subsistence fishing for their survival. Poor sanitation and hygiene combined with a general lack of education results in an unnecessarily high burden of ill health and preventable disease. There are no government health facilities or hospitals on the lake and many children miss out on school because of a shortage of teachers.
Each week TLC sends teams of doctors, nurses and other health workers out on to the lake. They eat, sleep and work aboard a series of floating medical clinics where they provide a full range of primary healthcare services including childhood immunizations, antenatal care, school medical check-ups and dental treatment. When necessary they also visit sick and immobile patients in their homes and can arrange referrals or transfers ashore.
An important part of the clinic’s work is concerned with health education and hygiene. They run a sustainable community outreach programme that, amongst other things, hands out seeds to villagers to enable floating vegetable gardens to be created. They also provide Biosand water filters to needy families so that they don’t have to drink the contaminated lake water. These water filters cost approximately $100 to purchase and install (see photo below and diagram on our news page). They are a very simple and effective way to promote health and reduce the risk of water-borne infections such as gastroenteritis that can be fatal especially for babies and small children.
The Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission generously funded and equipped one of TLC’s original floating clinics by way of a grant to the Impact Foundation. Since then Dr Nick and Claudine have been privileged to spend time working with the clinic team out on the lake and they have been able to see for themselves the vitally important contribution they make and the desperate need for their work to continue. On his most recent trip to Cambodia as well as helping out in the clinic, Dr Nick was invited to join in with training and mentoring sessions for the local staff. Before he left he was able to pass on sufficient funds donated by supporters in Guernsey for another 10 Biosand water filters to be installed out on the lake (see our news page).