The following is a story about Mr. Kim Heang, the Health Center Management Committee chief in Pursat. To see similar stories and find out more about RACHA's work, please check out Stories from the Field.
Despite a myriad of demanding responsibilities as chief of the Boeng Bot Kandol commune in the Pursat province, Mr. Hun Kim Heang, 56, volunteers as the chief of the Health Center Management Committee (HCMC). A vital component to strengthening the health system, the HCMC is a Ministry of Health (MOH) initiative comprised of commune council members, health center staff, and community representatives. All members work together to achieve a common goal: to improve the accessibility and quality of health services in the community and alleviating health complications. RACHA works in collaboration with the MOH to ensure successful implementation and management of the HCMC to achieve its goals.
With technical support from RACHA, Kim Heang meets with Village Health Support Group (VHSG) members and village chiefs monthly to strengthen collaboration and foster discussion on pertinent community health concerns and health information. Additionally, Kim Heang coordinates HCMC meetings bi-monthly to ensure fluid dialogue and input from all community stakeholders. Highly valuing the importance of good management and communication between the community and HCMC, Kim Heang is committed to hosting regular meetings. A pressing health concern highlighted in the meeting includes home-delivery complications leading to mother or infant fatality. Championing this health priority, during his three years of management, Kim Heang has successfully eliminated nearly all home-deliveries in his commune, and women are now referred to health centers for deliveries equipped to handle unforeseeable emergencies and complicated deliveries.
"The health center has seen a dramatic increase in deliveries in the past three years. Before the health center delivered only 2-5 babies a month, but now we deliver 15-20", says Khut Setha, Boeng Bot Kandol Health Center Chief. Because of his hard work, in the last three years a total of 107 pregnant women were referred to hospitals for a safer delivery. This was made possible by commune budget and community support. "Even if we lose NGO financial support in the future, we will allocate commune funds to healthcare to ensure continued care of our community", says Kim Heang.
Going above and beyond his duties, Kim Heang spends his free time working to promote healthy habits, such as hand washing and latrines use. He also counsels new couples to practice regular HIV and STI testing and encourages them to register all births and obtain birth certificates.
"Even though my job as commune chief takes a lot of time, I want to work hard to improve the health situation through HCMC," Kim Heang states about the demands of his work.
Nevertheless, it is not only efforts of one man. Collaboratively, the community has put forth diligent efforts to improve the health center. Over the past three years, the health center has seen more than 100% increase in outpatient visits with hopes of even more patients in the future trustful of the health system.