Helping Victims of Genocide in Cambodia – 40 Years On

Thomas Buckley, UConn associate clinical professor of pharmacy practice, one of several UConn researchers working with survivors of the Khmer Rouge, at a rural village health clinic in Cambodia during a sabbatical leave. (Courtesy of Tom Buckley)
Thomas Buckley, UConn associate clinical professor of pharmacy practice, one of several UConn researchers working with survivors of the Khmer Rouge, at a rural village health clinic in Cambodia during a sabbatical leave. (Courtesy of Tom Buckley)

In mid-November, for the first time, a United Nations-backed international tribunal called what occurred in Cambodia in the 1970s under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge “genocide.” According to a New York Times report, the tribunal convicted a 92- and an 87-year-old man who were the two most senior surviving members of the Khmer Rouge regime of genocide, various crimes against humanity, and violations of the Geneva Convention. Both were sentenced to life in prison.

Nearly 40 years after the end of the atrocities that killed an estimated 2 million people, a group of UConn researchers that spans disciplines is working to improve the lives of survivors, especially those who came to America as refugees. Thomas Buckley, associate clinical professor of pharmacy practice, S. Megan Berthold, associate professor of social work, and Julie Wagner, UConn Health professor of oral health and diagnostic sciences, have studied the health problems suffered by these refugees related to their long-ago trauma, and have come up with several interventions to improve their health.

The team works closely with Khmer Health Advocates, a West Hartford-based health clinic for Cambodian refugees. Recently, Theanvy Kuoch, a genocide survivor who founded and heads KHA, and Mary Scully, the organization’s clinical director, visited Buckley’s Public Health and Health Care Policy class to talk with pharmacy students about how they can make a positive impact on survivors of trauma.

Julie Bartucca of the UConn 360 podcast sat in on the class and talked with Buckley, Kuoch, and Scully about their goals:

 

For full episodes of the UConn 360 podcast, visit uconn.edu/uconn360-podcast.

Read more about the researchers’ work at magazine.uconn.edu.