Illnesses encountered during medical volunteering in Takeo province, Cambodia

Hye Yoon Lee, Sung Hun Choi, Jae Suk Rim, Ho Kyung Lim, Young Soo Heo, Jeonghee Shin, Rinet Aieng, Chai Hong Rim

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background and Objectives: Medical volunteering seeks to meet the clinical needs of underserved areas, but has been criticized for difficulties in addressing local health issues and resultant lack of sustainability. Our team has visited rural Cambodia annually since 2012. This study reports the illnesses encountered during the recent mission and share our experiences to improve the efficiency of medical volunteering. Materials and Methods: Infrastructure, such as public electricity or water, was unavailable, hence most medical care and records were hand‐performed. We categorized (1) primary diagnoses (chief complaints) by duration of symptoms, and (2) primary and secondary diagnoses (illnesses that were not related to the chief complaint) by severity of illness since patients commonly reported multiple symptoms. Blood pressure and anthropometric values were also checked and analyzed. Results: We encountered 317 adult and 141 pediatric patients. Among adults, 61.3% had persistent chronic (>6 month) symptoms of their chief complaints. The commonest diagnoses of chronic symptoms were musculoarthritis (31.5%) and gastroesophageal reflux disease and/or gastritis (21.7%). Hypertension and/or cardiac problems were relatively common among males (13.6%). The most common diagnosis among the severest cases (specialized or intensive care recommended) was cardiac problems (14.8%), often with abnormalities in sonography or electrocardiogram. For children, the overwhelming majority of diagnoses were related to acute symptoms and low severity, and approximately half were cases of the common cold. Commonly prescribed drugs were antacids or mucosal protectors (31.3%), Non‐steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other painkillers (27.6%), and antiparasites (17.7%) in adults, and NSAIDs (44.7%) and antiparasites (23.2%) in children. Among adults, 32.7% were diagnosed with hypertension, and body mass index (p = 0.003) and age (p < 0.001) were both correlated with hypertension and its grade. Conclusion: Our study offers practical help to volunteer health workers planning to visit Southeast Asia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number30
    JournalMedicina (Lithuania)
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan


    • Cambodia
    • Hypertension
    • Medical volunteering

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine(all)


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