ASIA: SUFFERING IN SILENCE
Cambodia's infrastructure, including the health system, was destroyed during the Khmer Rouge reign and years of civil war. Only in recent years ,several non governmental organizations have helped provide mental health services and training in the country in collaboration with local healers.
Mental health service is relatively new to Cambodia, but much needed. Before the Pol Pot regime Cambodia only had one mental hospital for the whole population which was destroyed during the years of horror.
Modest by western standards, the first mental health clinic for all of Cambodia was set up in Siem Reap by a team from Harvard University in 1994.
This is because many refugees settled down in and around Siem Reap. 102 doctors and counsellers were trained by the Harvard specialists in the late nineties as more than 80 percent of the population was traumatized by the Pol Pot years, and even more during their years in the refugee camps. Studies have shown that most Cambodians showed PTSD ( Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms similiar to the Jewish survivors of concentration camps.
Due to insufficient funding and the fact that many patients do not want to be reminded of the past, treatment remains difficult. Says a counselor in Siem Reap:" it only would open old wounds. People rather suffer in silence".