Hang Sokheng, 33, is a coffee booth seller in Koh Kong. She became Community Accountability Facilitator in July 2016 and has been very active in her community to help people understand information for citizens and their rights at school, the health center, and the commune. She educates people about the responsibilities of the commune authorities, school and health centre budgets, and performance and standards.
“Citizens are most interested in learning about budgets,” says Sokheng. “Before, they never knew how the budgets for the commune, school and health centre were spent but now they are able to hold the authorities accountable.“
Since we started this work people in my commune say that the health centre now has staff available at lunchtime and on holidays. They have changed their attitude and are more friendly when talking with patients.”
This is a common refrain from women across the communities in Koh Kong where Community Accountability Facilitators like Sokheng are conducting awareness sessions.
“I had never heard I had rights at the health centre,” says Noeun, 24. “Being a woman, it can be very difficult when there are not enough staff at the health centre and I have previously had to wait a very long time to be treated because of the lack of staff on duty. I learned that there are standards for how many staff should be there and that they should provide services 24 hours a day. I am so happy to see that since the awareness sessions started in our community there are now staff on standby all the time; it makes it so much easier for patients.”
Chanlin, 31, is another woman who has changed here opinion following awareness sessions.
“I never used to go to the health centre. My neighbour told me that when she went there they didn’t treat her very nicely so instead I would go to private clinics. After I learned about our rights as citizens at the health centre and the standard of service they should provide, I decided to visit the health centre when my daughter had a cough and to my surprise, the services and behaviour of the staff has improved a lot. Now I definitely prefer going to the health centre when we have health problems.”
Sokheng believes that these improvements in service will have a positive impact on the health of her community. “Because of this I think people will seek care at the health centre more often in the future.”
These activities are part of the Implementation of Social Accountability Framework project, funded by the European Union.