Health in Cambodia and hospital care

Medical students help Khmers with basic health

Visitors to Cambodia should bear in mind that although there are plenty of hospitals and other healthcare facilities in major cities and towns, standards throughout the country are below Western standards. But medical care can still be extremely costly and visitors shouldn’t travel to Cambodia or other countries in South East Asia without health insurance and making sure that all vaccinations are up-to-date.

Although Cambodia poses a number of health risks to foreigners, many can be avoided or at least minimised by taking certain precautions. Visitors should also be aware that good medical care is hard to find outside Phnom Penh, meaning that it is a good idea to carry certain medications such as diarrhoea treatment and salt tablets and avoid eating and drinking anything that comes from a questionable source. For more information on safety in Cambodia.

Malaria in Cambodia

Malaria is a problem in Cambodia, especially around the rainy season (June to October) and in national parks. However, the risks of contracting malaria are considerably reduced by taking malarias prophylactic, many of which should be taken for at least two weeks before entering infection zones for a few weeks after leaving.

Diarrhoea

Adjusting to new types of food can take some getting used to and it is not uncommon to experience a little diarrhoea when first visiting Cambodia. However, poor levels of food preparation hygiene can lead to more severe cases of diarrhoea and need to be treated with medications such as immodium, which are available over the counter. Symptoms should fade away after 24-36 hours, but if not travellers should consult a doctor. When suffering from diarrhoea, it is important to drink plenty of fluids in order to avoid becoming dehydrated.

Dengue fever

This has similar symptoms to maleria and is widespread in Cambodia. Also spread by mosquitoes, there are no medications to protect against dengue, so visitors should apply plenty of mosquito repellent especially in national parks.




Hepatitis: in Cambodia

This disease causes inflammation of the liver and presents with fever and vomiting. Both hepatitis A and B can be contracted in Cambodia through sexual activity and blood transfusions, and visitors should ensure vaccinations are up to date.

Drinking water in Cambodia

Tap water in Cambodia is untreated and should be avoided. Visitors should purchase bottled water, checking the seal carefully as empty bottles are sometime refilled with tap water. While ice is usually made with bottled water in fancy restaurants and resorts, it is sometimes made with tap water in budget establishments and should be avoided.

Food poisoning

Knowledge of food hygiene is low in many parts of Cambodia, so visitors should exercise a certain amount of caution. For example, bacteria can spread in lukewarm food, and it should be piping hot when served. 

Medication

Medication can be in short supply outside of urban areas such as Phnom Penh and it is a good ideal to carry a supply of any medication that visitors need to take on a regular basis such as ventolin inhalers and diabetes medication. It is also a good idea to take vitamin tablets daily as well as malaria medication and having an extra supply of these as well as diarrhoea medication can come in handy.

Hospitals in Cambodia

The best places to seek medical attention are Phnom Penh and Siem Reap as there are a few Western-style clinics and hospitals to be found here. If in need of a doctor outside of these places, visitors should ask staff at the nearest five star hotel or resort for advice.

For more information about Cambodia see travel tips and advice.