Burn Contractures

According to the Office of International Surgery (OIS), there are over 2,000 burn deaths and 30,000 burn injuries in Cambodia every year.


Two-thirds of these burns happen to patients under ten years old.


Due to a lack of vital post-burn care, many victims develop serious burn contractures which leads to further complications — from discrimination by their peers to physical disability.


Living in a largely agricultural country, much of the livelihoods of Cambodians are dependent on their physical ability. A dedicated burns program will enable Angkor Hospital for Children to provide high level burn-care, where consequences of delayed treatment is dire.

This is the story of 11-year-old Loas La, and other victims suffering from burn contractures.
Loas La and his family crosses an open field on the way out of their village to the main road.
11-year-old Loas La and his family cross an open field on the way out of their village to the main road, before travelling to Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) to undergo an operation conducted by the visiting team of doctors from Singapore.
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When Loas La was two years old, he stepped on a pile of hot ash from burning rubbish out of curiosity. It is common to see villagers burn rubbish as a means of disposal and keeping warm through the night.

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Many villagers like Loas La and his family have to travel long distances in order to seek treatment at the Angkor Hospital for Children due to the high standards of quality healthcare.

Villagers like Loas La and his family have to travel long distances in order to seek quality healthcare treatment at the Angkor Hospital for Children.

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Dr Terence Tan, a visiting plastic surgeon from the Singapore General Hospital, evaluates the condition of Loas La's feet contractures by asking him to stand up.

Dr Terence Tan, a visiting plastic surgeon from the Singapore General Hospital, evaluates the extent of Loas La's burn contracture by asking him to stand up.

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Loas La watches on as the hospital staff confirms his particulars and other checks before the operation.
Loas La watches on as the hospital staff confirms his particulars and other checks before the operation.
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11-year-old Loas La and his family crosses an open field on the way out of their village to the main road, before travelling to Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) to undergo an operation conducted by the visiting team of doctors from Singapore...When Loas

A juxtaposition of Loa La's feet with burn contracture and that of his baby sister.

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After ​administering the general anaesthesia, the operating team quickly plans for the long procedure and assigns tasks to the different surgeons present.

After administering the general anaesthesia, the operating team quickly plans for the long procedure and assigns tasks to the different surgeons present, in order to operate on both feet simultaneously.

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The visiting medical team from Singapore General Hospital hard at work and completing as many operations as possible during their stay.

The visiting medical team from Singapore General Hospital hard at work — trying to complete as many operations as possible during their stay in Cambodia.

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Doctors hard at work in order to quicken the operation process so that more patients could benefit from the Singapore medical team that offers the special expertise for such operations.
Doctors hard at work in order to quicken the operation process so that more patients could benefit from the Singapore medical team that offers the special expertise for such operations.
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Loas La's mother relieved to learn that the operation to release the contracture on her son's feet was a success.

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Loas La's baby sister holds onto his foot, which is now free of the contracture after the operation conducted by the visiting medical team from Singapore General Hospital.

Loas La's baby sister holds onto his foot which is now free of the contracture after an operation — lasting more than five hours — carried out by the visiting medical team from Singapore General Hospital.

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3-year-old Phon Bunrady suffered burns to his face and legs after accidentally knocking over and spilling gasoline over an open clay stove — a common fixture in Cambodian homes.

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Although Phon was rushed to a hospital near his home in Phnom Penh, the skin grafts were insufficient. The lack of vital post-burn care resulted in serious burn contractures, requiring an operation to prevent scars around Phon’s face from thickening and pulling his lip muscles downwards.


His mother, Heng Somom, coaxes him as he cries outside the treatment room.

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Dr Mohamed Zulfikar Rasheed, a visiting plastic surgeon from the Singapore General Hospital, evaluates the condition of the burn scars on Phon's lips which has to be operated on in order to prevent any complications in the future.

Dr Mohamed Zulfikar Rasheed, a visiting plastic surgeon from the Singapore General Hospital, evaluates the extent of the burn scars on Phon's lips, which has to be operated on in order to prevent any complications in the future.

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Traditional practices of cooking over an open fire make burns like this extremely common in Cambodia.

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Phon's mother holds him tight while repeatedly assuring him that there will be nothing to worry about.

Phon's mother holds him tight while repeatedly assuring him that there will be nothing to worry about, as a nurse administers the IV medication.

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Phon and his mother wait outside the operating theatre.

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A scrub nurse using the closed glove technique to wear sterile surgical gloves in preparation for an operation at the Angkor Hospital for Children.
A scrub nurse using the closed glove technique to wear sterile surgical gloves in preparation for an operation at the Angkor Hospital for Children.
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A nurse holds on to Phon's hand in the Operating Theatre (OT) when the General Anaesthetics (GA) is being administered.

A nurse holds on to Phon's hand after the general anaesthetics is being administered.

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Dr Mohamed Zulfikar Rasheed, a visiting plastic surgeon from the Singapore General Hospital, starts operating on Phon's lips.
Dr Mohamed Zulfikar Rasheed, a visiting plastic surgeon from the Singapore General Hospital, starts operating on Phon's lips.
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