It’s one thing for a developing country to lack physicians due to a scarcity of training. It’s quite another for such a vacuum to exist because the physicians were executed. In Cambodia in the 1970s, genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge spared few of the educated class. If they were spared, chances were they lost most, if not all, of their family members. In all, an estimated 1.5 million–2 million Cambodians died of starvation, execution, disease or overwork during that time.1
Explore this issueDecember 2017
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Against this somber backdrop, today’s Cambodian physicians attempt to help fellow citizens suffering with rheumatology problems, with some help from the outside world.
Victoria Seligman, MD, MPH, a rheumatologist and internal medicine physician at the Denver Veterans Administration and the University of Colorado, has volunteered in Cambodia for 14 years. “When the Khmer Rouge were done with Cambodia, by most accounts there were fewer than 20 doctors still alive in the country,” says Dr. Seligman. “The new government sent their best and brightest abroad to study medicine, so there is now a growing number of physicians in the country. There are still no fellowship-trained, government-licensed rheumatologists, however.