Volunteering with TLC
The Lake Clinic welcomes appropriately qualified medical and dental volunteers. We are providers of Primary Care services, and these are rapidly evolving as our presence on the Tonle Sap lake increases. Most volunteers therefore will be Primary Care physicians or dentists. As of this time, June 2012, The Lake Clinic will not accept medical students except for those whose placement is already confirmed.
The clinical cases that may be met will be familiar to qualified GPs and general dental practitioners. A surprisingly high proportion of problems that we treat are similar to a western general practice. However there is a higher proportion of children and less older adults - this reflects the lower Cambodian life expectancy compared with the west. This life expectancy is currently increasing, although this may not yet have filtered through to the lake villages where there is still extreme poverty and subsistence living.
The villages that we visit have received no medical services prior to the launch of the Lake Clinic and this means that we are currently building up the service with the aim of providing regular and predictable visits by our teams. We are progressively getting on top of chronic disease and preventative health care and we are scheduling repeat and follow up consultations. More recent and acute problems are dealt with on our weekly visits.
We will be able to increase the range of services provided as the TLC infrastructure builds up and we will soon be able to undertake consultations in a more private environment with greater confidentiality.
TLC currently operates two medical teams. Each contains one or two doctors and a midwife, and one team has an experienced paediatric nurse practitioner. There is a cook, boat driver and medical records registrar.
A typical voyage lasts three days and will include an early start around 6.30 am from the TLC admin office in Siem Reap. There is a short journey to the boat station, although the length of this journey depends on the depth and size of the Tonle Sap lake which rises and falls by several metres and expands and contracts by several kilometres depending on the season. There is also a significant variation in the distance of each village from Siem Reap. The boat journey may last several hours but this is due to shorten in the near future with the commissioning of new faster boats. We may do an afternoon clinic the first day and then, the following day, an all day clinic (with a lunch break). There may be a further clinic the following morning.
The trips are limited to three days at present. It becomes increasingly difficult to maintain supplies and conditions for longer. However this may increase when the new clinics commence operations and we have faster boats to supply them.
There is electricity on the TLC-1 boat and on the floating clinics. However in the dry season we use a much smaller boat and there is no power or electricity unless we spend the night in one of our clinics. We maintain the same hours as the villagers and go to bed shortly after sunset and wake at dawn, with the clinic starting work around 7 am. At busy clinics we may continue until 6pm at night although there is time for lunch and a rest.
Antimalarials are not required on the Tonle Sap Lake nor in Siem Reap but remember that there is malaria elsewhere in Cambodia.
Where we have clinics you will sleep either inside or outside depending on the weather. In other villages other accommodations may be all that is available. This may be on a floating platform or in a school or the local chief's floating home. Of course, if the TLC-1 is in service, she does sleep 5 people comfortably.
We provide clean towels, a mattress, pillow, bunk or camp bed and a mosquito net. All food is provided on the trip. There is a plentiful supply of bottled water.
Space may be limited and items brought on each trip should be readily portable.
We advise volunteers to consider bringing some of the following items on each trip, which should fit into a medium sized back pack:
If you are interested in volunteering, please provide us with the following: