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Every Drop Counts – New Water Purification Systems Bring Enhanced Hospital Care To Thousands Of Cambodians

Access to a safe, reliable source of clean water is a basic that many hospitals in developing countries lack. In Cambodia for example, a 2016-20120 World Health Organization report[1] revealed that just 67% of Cambodian healthcare facilities have water supply coverage.

Closing that gap is the goal of the Safe Water in Health Facilities (SWHF) program launched by Cambodia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) and the GE Foundation in 2014. The GE Foundation is the Philanthropic organization of GE dedicated to improving communities around the world by focusing on education, public policy, and health.

 

Special guests attending the water purification system inauguration at Bun Rany Hun Sen Rokarkong Referral Hospital included from left: US Ambassador to Cambodia, William Heidt, Jim Stunkel, Vice President, Assist International, Or Vandine, Director General, Cambodia Ministry of Health, GE President and CEO, ASEAN, Wouter Van Wersch, Ralph Sudfield, President & CEO, Assist International, and Dararith Lim, Country Leader, GE Cambodia.

SWHF supports the installation of new water purification systems in medical facilities serving large provincial populations. In addition to the filtration systems, the program also provides related technology and capacity building training to the respective hospitals.

Since September 2014, the $3.1 million SWHF initiative has supported the installation of new water filtration systems in 10 hospitals – Kampong Thom, Barray Santuk, Suong, Koh Thom, Kampong Tralach, Thmar Kol, Oudong, Sampov Lun, Kampong Trach Referral, and Bun Rany Hun Sen Rokarkong Referral Hospital.

 

Clean Water For Thousands Of Patients

The Bun Rany Hun Sen Rokarkong Referral Hospital program was the most recent, and final project of the SWHF campaign in Cambodia. To mark this milestone, and the contribution made by SWHF, an inauguration event was held at the hospital on March 21.

The guest of honor, Dr. Mam Bunheng, Cambodia’s Minister of Health said, “Access to clean water is essential for quality patient care, and thanks to the efforts of hospital officials, working with representatives from the ministry, and the GE Foundation, many thousands of patients at 10 major provincial hospitals now have access to safe, clean water every day.”

In his welcome remarks, GE President and CEO, ASEAN, Wouter Van Wersch said, “Today’s inauguration, and the clean water programs with nine other referral hospitals are great examples of public and private sector partnerships that benefit thousands of people in a direct, meaningful way. This initiative also demonstrates our ongoing support for Cambodia’s long-term development and its bold growth ambitions.”

Hospital official, Loung Vani said the new clean water supply will make a big difference for patients and hospital staff alike.

 

Before And After

Dararith Lim, Country Leader, GE Cambodia said the “before and after” impact of SWHF is considerable.

“Prior to this program, seven of the 10 hospitals operated without clean water treatment systems, while three used small water filter systems serving the maternity and surgery wards only. Now, in addition to all wards being covered, the clean water supplied is also used to clean vital medical equipment which makes a big difference in managing hospital daily processes and operations.”

Dr. Kouy Bunthoeurn, director, Kandal Provincial Department of Health noted, “Before this, some hospitals used piped or bore water, or both – the bore water was often sourced from a local pond or well. The new systems also provide clean water for visitors and staff to drink. Thus, budget once allocated to buying bottled water, can be used now for patient care.”

SWHF is one of the initiatives supported by the GE Foundation’s Developing Health Globally (DHG) program launched in 2004 to improve healthcare delivery to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Run in partnership with UNICEF, GE Water, Emory University and Assist International, SWHF supports the design and installation of small-scale water purification units for community clinics and birthing centers to provide access to safe water for local communities in Uganda, Honduras, Ghana, Rwanda and Cambodia. The first system was installed at a Ghanaian hospital in 2004.

The GE Foundation – through DHG – has donated over $13 million worth of health support to enhance infrastructure, capacity building, and access to care at 32 hospitals in 24 provinces throughout Cambodia since 2009.