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Yunnan reaches out to Cambodia with children's health initiative

By in News on

China is the largest contributor of direct foreign investment to its distant southern neighbor Cambodia. The two countries also share a form of unitarian government in Communism. But despite historically close ties fueled by politics and economics, there are some rifts in the relationship. A small group based in Yunnan is reaching out in another way, by offering free health programs aimed at Cambodian youth.

For the past two years, doctors from Yunnan Fuwai Cardiovascular Hospital in Kunming have traveled to northern Cambodia to screen children from poor families for dangerous heart defects. To date, more than 30,000 kids have undergone this relatively simple and quick process, which can be completed by properly trained people, even if they have no medical background.

The Fuwai program, called 'China-Cambodia Love Heart Journey', endeavors to identify up to 100 children with life-threatening heart ailments, assess the severity of their needs and then fly them to Kunming for any necessary surgeries. Several procedures have already been successfully carried out, with six new patients arriving in the Spring City in mid-July.

If this all sounds familiar to GoKunming readers, it is because United States-based Dr Robert Detrano has been doing the same thing in Yunnan — with help from local doctors, volunteers and fundraisers — for the better part of 20 years. Those efforts managed to identify 500 kids with debilitating heart ailments and secure the treatment they needed.

Sino-Cambodian relations are in a state of flux over issues of sovereignty and aid. Coupled with international pressure to reform — mostly from the European Union — Cambodia's government is feeling squeezed from several directions. A bit of outreach from Yunnan — outside typical economic incentives — in the form of humanitarian help, may be a breath of fresh air. Of the current Yunnan-based heart screening effort in his country, Cambodia's Health Minister, Sea Huong, said:

This is a testament to good cooperation in the health sector between our two countries and it will contribute further to deepening people-to-people bonds. I hope under this close cooperation between the two countries, more Cambodian children with congenital heart disease will receive free surgeries in China.

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Assisting Cambodians is great. Pink elephant in the room is the looming BRI project through Cambodia. All said and done, BRI will increase Chinese tourism and may gradually lift their country out of poverty and help their people at a macro level.

Minor error, I think: Bob Detrano has been carrying out his excellent work in Yunnan for a little more than 10 years, not 'the better part of 20 years' - but at any rate it's been a very worthwhile project. Note that similar work may be beginning in Thailand among migrants and refugees who have long been fleeing Burma.

There is another elephant in the room.

Not mentioned in above article is the China-Cambodia arms deal. Pray those Chinese firearms sold to Cambodia don't fall into wrong hands, injuring innocent victims of crossfire.

Calm down. It's not America

No, America's mass shootings are another beast.

Brutality by Cambodia's corrupt military police is disturbing. The shooting in Sihanoukville village earlier this year comes to mind.

They've also begun the national drug war campaign in '17, though not to the extreme extent of the Philippines under Duterte.

I read that the Khmer Rouge destroyed the land ownership records. There was some sort of restitution programme afterwards. You can easily see how that situation can be exploited by people with money and connections. In Cambodia I suspect businessmen can buy the police fairly easily. Add to that the Niagara of Chinese money pouring in ...

Not sure what the shared 'a unitarian form of government in Communism' is, exactly. Maybe it means supporting a 'socialist market economy'.
However, the health initiative is certainly worthwhile.

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