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A Humanity  Inclusion physical therapist shows the mother of a boy with cerebral palsy how to do exercises by demonstrating on a baby doll at a rehabilitation center in Cambodia

Rehabilitation in Cambodia continues thanks to innovative methods

Despite a daunting economic crisis caused by restrictive measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 in Cambodia, Humanity & Inclusion continues providing in-person and virtual rehabilitation care.  

While many regions around the globe may be seeing a drop in Covid-19 cases, Cambodia is experiencing its first wave of infections. Largely spared by the pandemic in 2020, the country began seeing a rise in positive cases in February 2021. Numbers steadily rose until May, and have remained mostly stagnant since. 

“We have hundreds of new cases a day, and now it’s spreading to the provinces,” says Edith Van Wijngaarden, Humanity & Inclusion’s country manager for Cambodia. “The rates haven’t decreased over the past few weeks, and the real numbers may be even higher than the official figures.” 

Economic deterioration 

Strict government restrictions were put in place to prevent more infections, but efforts to stifle one crisis have fueled another. Following the mandatory closure of businesses, travel and social gatherings, people found themselves in the midst of a serious economic crisis, with no means to make a living. 

“The situation has been really difficult,” Van Wijngaarden explains. “People in the high-risk, or ‘red’ zones could not even access food. Many people have lost their jobs. There is no more tourism, so everyone in that industry is struggling. There were outbreaks in the garment factories. The entire economic situation is degrading.”

While the pandemic situation appears hopeful with a promising vaccination plan in place, the government opted to prematurely lift restrictions to provide some economic relief, renewing risks posed by the current wave of cases. 

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Work continues despite challenges

Despite the difficulties imposed by both the pandemic and economic crises, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams have continued to support the population’s most vulnerable people. 

In addition to providing Personal Protective Equipment to reduce Covid-19 infection risk, staff members are distributing food kits to those affected by loss of income. Teams continue to provide rehabilitation services to people living with disabilities. Since February, staff have implemented in-person care as well as tele-rehabilitation to ensure accessibility. Using dolls as demonstration tools, parents are learning how to practice physical therapy exercises and continue care for children with disabilities at home. 

“Our rehabilitation center is still up and running,” Van Wijngaarden says. “It has had to open and close a little, but it hasn’t impacted our ability to support the community. When we have no other option, we follow up and support them remotely. We are currently training five other centers to do remote rehabilitation as well.”

Global response to Covid-19

Amid the health crisis, Humanity & Inclusion specialists continue to provide vital rehabilitation care for people with disabilities in physical therapy units and alongside local partners. This is increasingly important, as overworked medical facilities and government restrictions limit access to other care services. Teams are also providing mental health and psychosocial support to assist frontline healthcare workers, people with disabilities, vulnerable people and their families.

Humanity & Inclusion teams around the world have been responding to the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020. Donors helped launch more than 170 Covid-19 projects in dozens of countries to protect and care for the people that others overlook. Between March and August 2020, staff have reached 2.2 million people with care and aid to keep Covid-19 at bay.

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Image: A Humanity & Inclusion physical therapist uses a doll to demonstrate rehabilitation exercises a mother can practice at home with her son who has cerebral palsy. Copyright: HI