The Wait is Over for Safe Births in Rural Cambodia


KRATIE PROVINCE, Cambodia – When pregnant women need emergency care in Cambodia’s rural Kratie Province, help is often out of reach. The 11,000 square km province is served by just one major highway. It is also split in half by the Mekong River, separating many from life-saving care.

“The river can be very hard to cross,” said Keang Hone, the director of Kratie Provincial Hospital, the only facility in the province equipped to deal with highly complicated births. “A boat can be difficult to find and expensive to hire, and they don’t operate at night.”

Dr. Hone added, “Women from the opposite bank might be haemorrhaging, or require an emergency C-section, but they often arrive too late. This can result in the death of the mother or baby – or both.”

Roeun Sreika, 21, Net Pheak, 38, and Meng Sampoch, 20, sit together in the lounge of the waiting house. They are receiving regular care and monitoring by the facility's midwives. © Nicolas Axelrod/Ruom for UNFPA

The Waiting House for Pregnant Women with Complications, established in 2011 with UNFPA support, is helping to change all this. It provides boarding, monitoring and midwifery care to expectant mothers – particularly those with high-risk pregnancies – in the days or weeks leading up to delivery.