Cause of Death Unknown

Something that has always frustrated or intrigued me about Cambodia is the complete lack of access to post- mortem services when someone dies.I have lost track of the times I have asked Leakhana ” what did they die of ?…” only to be told “Oh you know….something in the chest / head / stomach etc”. She generally touches wherever the deceased’s ailment was and says ” we call it “Hot Belly”/”Hot Head”/”Hot Stomach”” etc etc. When my Uncle died here about 6 months ago he was perfectly fit one moment, sick the next, recovering for a while and then quickly died over a week or so. In line with Buddhist practice, he was cremated within days. No-one will ever really know what he died of.

When Leakhana told me that Srey Touche’s Aunt had died suddenly the other day at the age of 45 “or so” , again….no-one could tell me anything other than “they thought it was the flu but then she die quickly”. AND she had a two year old daughter ! ( A 45 year old with a 2 year old ?? ).

I’m all for tradition/cremation etc but I also think a family deserve to know exactly how their beloved one died. Surely Doctors in Cambodia can at least diagnose Cancer/Leukaemia/Heart Attack/ Brain Haemorrhage etc ?? Why can’t they convert these words to Khmer so the family knows ? I mean, the can diagnose AIDS in a heartbeat here an everyone in Cambodia knows that HIV is but everything else seems to be lost on everyone.

While we are at it, the other thing that absolutely completely and utterly totally SHITS me is the lack of any police forensic training. People get away with murder and rape and some horrific crimes here EVERY hour ( mostly out in the wild provinces ) and very few get caught. No DNA testing here. Unless someone actually SEES you committing the crime, you are pretty much home and hosed.What the hell are all these bloody NGOs doing ? Why aren’t the Australian Federal Police ( or the French ) training Khmer cops either here or in overseas labs and distributing Forensic kits etc ?? Maybe they are in which case I stand corrected or maybe I watch too much CSI.I just don’t think people should get away with murder !

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