Since 2009, OT&P Healthcare has supported M'Lop Tapang, a charity based in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, that addresses the public health challenges faced by the local community, particularly children, youth, and families.
Sihanoukville is a city grappling with a complex web of socio-economic issues. The lives of Cambodian children, youth, and families are affected by poverty, lack of essential resources such as shelter, food, clean water, and sanitation. Violence, abuse, infectious diseases and malnutrition are commonplace.
M’Lop Tapang does an incredible job supplying medical, educational and social services to children who have very little access to the social backup taken for granted in the developed world. Many children with acute diseases are transferred to Phnom Penh (three hours by road) for treatment and most medical care, including routine vaccinations, is simply too expensive for these families.
M'Lop Tapang's Holistic Approach
M'Lop Tapang uses a comprehensive, and multi-disciplinary approach to help vulnerable children and families in Sihanoukville. By collaborating with specialized teams, M'Lop Tapang can assess each child's situation and respond to their individual needs in an immediate and sustainable manner. Dr. Tim Trodd, co-founder of OT&P Healthcare, has been actively involved in supporting M'Lop Tapang since his first visit in 2008.
After Dr Trodd’s first trip he recorded his findings in an article published in ACNEM Journal. The main points of the article are summarised here under the Malnutrition, Air Pollution From Cooking and Sanitation subtitles.
M'Lop Tapang effectively treats malnourished children, addressing kwashiorkor with a feeding program that includes healthy formula and rice porridge-based supplements. Elemental testing revealed iron and zinc deficiencies, prompting supplementation for all ages. Chronic dermatitis is common, so locally-sourced coconut oil is introduced as an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Extraction was facilitated by M'Lop Tapang's cooking staff, and the results have been impressive, with nurse practitioner Hannah McLean noting significant improvements in skin integrity, particularly in severe cases, within a week.
Air Pollution from Cooking
M'Lop Tapang identified a high incidence of chest disease in a squatter village, attributed to poor ventilation from indoor wood cooking stoves. The resulting air pollution causes significant child mortality worldwide. A public health education program is now in place to reduce exposure to indoor air pollution.
Squatter villages lack basic sanitation and clean water, leading to worm infestations in children. Stool tests on five children revealed various parasites. Providing access to sanitation and clean water is a pressing concern but political difficulties can be blockers to solutions. Plans include building simple latrines and training M'Lop Tapang staff to use a microscope for examining stool samples. This would enable targeted parasite treatments and improve the health of children in these villages.
Call to Action
Dr. Trodd will return to work with M'Lop Tapang in November 2023 to continue his support and add to his findings.
We encourage you to learn more about M'Lop Tapang and the incredible work they do to improve public health in Cambodia. Share this blog post with your friends, family, and colleagues, and consider supporting M'Lop Tapang or getting involved in public health initiatives in your own community. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.