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Evaluating the SCUBY project and the impact of COVID in Cambodia

In March, our two Belgian PhD researchers, Monika Martens and Katrien Danhieux visited the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, partner in the SCUBY project. As our project is running towards its end (we still have a little bit more than a year to go, until June 2023), a large part in that time we focus on evaluating our own efforts as well as joint stakeholders’ efforts towards scale-up of NCD care.

Hence, one main objective of the visit was to facilitate and conduct the SCUBY process evaluation via researcher and stakeholder interviews, whilst identifying contextual barriers and facilitators towards scale-up as well as exploring mechanisms of impact, the policy dialogue and scale-up roadmap development process.

The first week started with internal meetings (actually, interviewing our NIPH SCUBY team members) on their perceptions and interpretations of the overall scale-up process as well as the specific sub-processes at different levels. We talked extensively, as a second part of the evaluation went beyond process evaluation and involved some realist evaluation interview questions which tested the theory (our initial programme theory) more explicitly by confronting the individual SCUBY team members with it.

In the second week, interviews with stakeholders, including NIPH, Ministry of Health (at the Department of Preventive Medicine), Ministry of Labour, the Korean Foundation for International Health (KOFIH), and the peer educator network MoPoTsyo were conducted. We’ve gathered a lot of insights and learned a lot from various perspectives. We applaud these stakeholders’ commitment to pushing NCD care higher on the agenda and putting a spotlight on NCDs in and after these COVID-19 crisis years.

The second objective was to study the impact of COVID-19 on the care for patients with diabetes and hypertension. The stakeholder interviews already provided interesting insights, but deepening through interviews with health care providers even provided a better understanding. During a 4-day field trip 8 health centres and 2 hospitals were visited in the provinces of Takeo, Kampot and Kampong Speu. Health care providers were enthusiastic to explain how they work and what challenges they face.

Altogether, it has been a fruitful trip which provided meaningful insights into the Cambodian situation regarding the scale-up of integrated care for diabetes and hypertension.

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