Phnom Penh

The ophthalmology course at the University of Phnom Penh came into being with financial support from the Eye Care Foundation. The training of ophthalmic personnel is one of the mainstays of the Eye Care Foundation. In this way we contribute to building a solid foundation for sustainable and quality eye care in the project countries. Twice a year, the Eye Care Foundation sends a specialist to the Ophthalmology Residency Training (ORT) Centre to share their specialized knowledge and so contribute to raising the level of expertise in the various fields of eye care in Cambodia.

Prof Dr. Aniki Rothova recounts her experiences

Prof Dr. Aniki Rothova travelled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for the Eye Care Foundation (ECF). She was there for a period of one week (31.10.2015 to 06.11.2015) to teach ophthalmologists in training. Twice a year the ECF sends a specalist from the Netherlands to the Ophthalmology Residency Training (ORT) Centre to share their specialized knowledge and so contribute to raising the level of expertise in the various fields of eye care in Cambodia. Prof Dr. Aniki Rothova is a specialist in the field of uveitis, an inflammation of the uvea.

The report written by the previous guest lecturer helped Dr. Rothova prepare for her visit. She arrived well prepared, which was necessary since a week is short. It was a positive and meaningful experience and the knowledge she imparted about uveitis proved very useful. She found teaching there very inspiring.

Prof Dr. Aniki Rothova strives to encourage creative thinking in her students. In Cambodia, the emphasis in education tends to be on remembering facts and less so on creative thinking. Dr. Rothova tried to stimulate her students to think for themselves and to dare to speak their mind. In the course of the week, she saw how the students opened up and witnessed their increasing enjoyment in coming up with less orthodox solutions for patients and their problems. Some of the students were very motivated to do an internship abroad in order to bring more expertise and skill back to Cambodia.

In her classes, Dr. Rothova compared the ideal situation to reality. The ideal is to follow the books and the reality is what you can actually do in Phnom Penh with limited means and medicine. It is still possible to help people without state of the art equipment and with limited financial means. The students must learn how they can put the theory into practice in the often limited circumstances in Cambodia. The Eye Care Foundation`s support for this ORT project is crucial, because the ORT is not viable without it.

For Prof. Dr. Aniki Rothova it was her first time in Cambodia. She had read a lot about the Khmer Rouge, and had some experience in other countries in South-east Asia. But in Cambodia she experienced what it means for a country to lose an entire generation of teachers. You can feel it, she said. The younger generation wants to move forward. French expats who left a troubled Europe call it a booming country, where people can make a place for themselves.

Cambodia is impressive. Dr. Rothova worked long hours during her weeklong stay and only had one day off, the day of her arrival, and went sightseeing in Phnom Penh. She rented a bike and cycled through Phnom Penh, took a ferry to cross the river that runs through the city and visited the old prison. She was particularly impressed by the people of Cambodia, especially the older generation.