Disaster Mental Health

Launching the Protecting Children in Disasters project: Cambodia

February 23, 2009

Natural and man-made disasters can have a devastating effect on people’s mental as well as physical health, and no more so than in Cambodia. AAMH’s Protecting Children in Disasters program developed in China recognises that children are often the most vulnerable population group affected following a major disaster.

In February 2009, an exciting new stage in the program was reached when the Cambodian Protecting Children in Disasters program commenced.  Julia Fraser and Assoc Prof Chee Ng from AAMH travelled to Cambodia to meet with the Cambodian Health Minister HE Dr Mam Bun Heng for a program update, and then the Secretary of State HE Dr Eng Huot to sign the Letter of Agreement to commence work on the program.

This AusAid funded project will be developed in collaboration with the Cambodian National Program of Mental Health (NPMH), and led by Dr Sophal Chhit, the NPMH Deputy Director. Dr Chhit was a recent Fellow of the St. Vincent’s Mental Health POST program in Melbourne in 2011. This placement was coordinated under the prestigious Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship (ALAF).

Julia Fraser and Associate Professor Chee Ng joined the newly formed Cambodian project team at a full day workshop in Phnom Penh to:

  • plan the implementation of the project
  • provide background on approaches that can be implemented immediately in Cambodia through partnerships with local Buddhist monasteries, village health workers, local administrators and key NPMH health leaders
  • assess the materials developed as part of the China Protecting Children in Disasters Program to determine potential for transfer to the Cambodian context.