Meningoencephalocele (MEC) Treatment in Cambodia
A condition called frontal mengoencephalocele is most commonly found in S.E. Asia and in particular Cambodia. The condition involves a growth on the face and is filled with cerebral fluid. This condition becomes evident soon after birth and usually causes death by the person's mid-twenties if not treated.
It is believed to be caused by a mold that gets into a late harvest rice crop, which affects a mother late in her pregnancy. If exposed, the mother is a carrier and the fetus is affected. The condition causes significant distress, may interfere with vision, tear ducts and sinuses and often results in community out-casting of the individual, especially in poor village situations where it is most prevalent. Rupture of or injury to the MEC carries a very high risk of infection and death.
A surgical team in France developed a surgical procedure to address this condition. The success of these operations drew the interest of the Rotary Club of Phnom Penh which has developed an ongoing program of support, raising sufficient funds to employ a full time MEC co-ordinator at CSC hospital to manage an outreach program to locate and counsel sufferer’s and their families, and to bring them into Phnom Penh for assessment and treatment.
It is through our connection with the Rotary Club of Phnom Penh that South Puget Sound Rotary Club discovered a need that we can address. Our involvement helps cover the cost of transportation and to assist with some of the hospital costs as the family could be in Phnom Penh for a week or more. Many times the patient and family will also need to return after six weeks for some cosmetic surgeries.