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Cambodia Divided over Medicines – Traditional over Modern?

Friday, April 13th, 2012
royal palace cambodia

There has been a lot of progress in the healthcare sector in terms of advanced medicines and technology, but for Cambodians there remains a dilemma – to approach traditional practitioners or modern professional doctors. One of the main reasons for this dilemma is that the younger generation is more inclined towards the modern medicines while the older generations still have faith in traditional ways of curing.

The belief amongst older Cambodians is that everything in this world has a spirit and it is their ancestors who are protecting them from the afterlife. Hence, if these sprits are angered by doing something wrong, then people are punished and this could include some form of sickness or ailment. Traditionally, when a person falls sick in Cambodia, the first visit is to the traditional doctor. Only when there appears to be no hope do people turn to professional medical care.

Kim Sunly, working as a surgeon at Phreak Kosamak Hospital, says that, “People spend too much time with traditional doctors. When they finally switch to modern medicine the disease has gotten a lot more serious.”

In fact, Sunly admits that, “Sometimes we aren’t able to cure them. People are not gods, but traditional doctors act as if though they can cure every type of disease.”

He further cautions that, “Someone who recovers after seeing a traditional practitioner hasn’t benefited from effective treatment, but has recovered because his or her body was able to fight the disease naturally.”

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