Swiss and Cambodian flags flew overhead on the corner of Streets 47 and 88 near Wat Phnom for the inauguration of Dr Beat Richner’s fifth Kantha Bopha hospital on the morning of Dcember 28.
Kantha Bopha V, built on land donated by local tycoon Kith Meng, cost $9 million and includes more than 300 beds in addition to state of the art X-ray and ultrasound capabilities, said Richner, who is a Swiss national.
Over the last 15 years, Richner said his three hospitals in Phnom Penh and one in Siem Reap have collectively treated 7.5 million outpatients and 650,000 inpatients. A staff of 2,000 Cambodians and two foreigners, including Richner, have performed about 90,000 surgical operations, and currently perform nearly 60 on a daily basis, he said.
“All treatment is free; there is justice for all,” Richner added.
Taking part in the inauguration ceremony, Health Minister Nuth Sokhom thanked Richner for his continuing contribution to health care in Cambodia, particularly in the area of dengue fever this year.
Richner’s four hospitals saw 24,000 severe cases of dengue fever over the course of the 2007 epidemic, which was the furthest reaching and most serious of its kind in more than a decade.
“There were often two to three patients per bed,” Richner said, adding that the yearly running costs of the four hospitals amounts to $24 million, the bulk of which comes from private donors.
The Cambodian government contributes $2 million and another $2.5 million comes from the Swiss government, he said.
Nuth Sokhom said that the government has steadily increased its contribution to Kantha Bopha over the years since it gave an initial contribution of $450,000 in 2000, and he pledged to continue this trend.
Richner said that the medical infrastructure in place is fully sustainable, but the financial focus needs to shift away from private donations in order to make it a fully sustainable operation. He also mentioned that a sixth hospital was on the way in Siem Reap and that he hopes one day to extend services to other developing nations like Burma and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, Defense Minister Tea Banh and Interior Minister Sar Kheng also attended the ceremony, which was presided over by King Norodom Sihamoni.
King Sihamoni said the royal family has also given land to Kantha Bopha hospitals and he sent regards from the retired king and queen.
“Kantha Bopha is the warm place for treatment when the children and grandchildren get sick,” he said.