A 78-year-old woman infected with HIV/AIDS has become the fifth person to die of the deadly virus in a village in remote western Cambodia, after being infected by an unauthorized medical worker who reused syringes.
Early this month, the Cambodian Red Cross said four other infected residents of Roka commune in Sangke district of Battambang province had died as a result of the virus.
The woman, Nach Ros was the grandmother of an extended family of 50, 16 of whom who had been infected with the virus. In late January, a seven-month-old—the youngest family member to contract the virus—died.
Speaking at Nach Ros’ funeral, her daughter Hang Horn said her mother became ill and had to be treated at a hospital after she learned that she had HIV/AIDS following blood test results on Feb. 16.
Nach Ros was released from the hospital after eight days, but died en route to her home.
“Before she could do housework, but after she learned the results, she was shocked and had diarrhea,” Hang Horn said. “She couldn’t eat. She died on the way home from the hospital.”
Not enough medication
Roka commune deputy chief Soeum Chhom said four more patients in their 70s have become ill from the virus and are staying at the hospital or in their homes.
“In the Roka referral hospital, there isn’t enough medication,” he told RFA’s Khmer Service. “The Ministry of Health must pay more attention. They can’t let it go.”
At present, there are 269 patients from Roka who have tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
Earlier this month, some infected Roka villagers complained of police indifference to their reports of thieves who took advantage of their physical weakness and inability to defend their homes by stealing their cows and other property.
In the meantime, authorities have charged Yem Chhrem, the unauthorized medical practitioner who worked in an unlicensed village clinic, with murder and other crimes related to the mass infection after he admitted to reusing needles to treat patients.
Reported by Hum Chamroeun of RFA’s Khmer Service. Trnaslated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.