អរុណសួស្ដី Miss Asuncion!

Those were my very first worst in Khmer, the language spoken in Cambodia, from the taxi driver that came to pick me up at the airport. They meant “Good Morning”, but in Khmer is pronounced similar to “suicide” and THAT is what I understood after 15h travelling! Of course I started laughing and told him that “Suicide Miss Asuncion” was the best welcome I have ever had…

Finally here I am folks! It is the first time that I write a blog, soooo….”Please Mind the Blog” – I will do my best to make good use of your time reading it.

My NGO provided me an amazing support before coming here arranging paperwork and all logistics needed so my landing was quite smooth. Besides, my boss came to pick me up and have breakfast at my hotel the next day which I appreciated since my brain could only focus on the noise and the chaotic traffic around me and the chances of me reaching the office on time would have between 0%-1%…

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In order to give you a little bit of background, I am working with Clinton Health Access Initiative in Phnom Penh, and their work here is focused in two programs: HIV and Malaria elimination. I am part of the HIV program and I will be helping identifying gaps and improving how ARVs (antiretrovirals) and laboratory commodities are supplied across the country working closely with the Government. The way CHAI operates here is quite interesting as they work as an extension of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD even physically as they have a small office in their building from where we work at least half day every day. We are four people in my team: our manager who is American and two locals – I am amazed by their knowledge, open mind and endless willing to help, plus… we laugh a LOT. BINGO!

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I would like to dig more in the program goals and share with you the first health centre’s visits we did last week plus more stuff but it is almost midnight so I think I will keep the suspense until next post next week and explain in detail.

In the meantime, I would like to raise a question that I am curious about:

We have a big challenge here concerning TAT (Turn Around Time) concerning the results of tests done in the capital that have to be sent back to patients in far rural areas. Currently, the laboratory is typing a letter and posting it which takes ages and we are looking for other sustainable alternatives.. what other ways are your NGOs using that are working well?

Said that, talk to you soon!