Siem Reap Hospital Threatened by Land Deal

siem reap town – Government of­­ficials are negotiating the sale of land occupied by the state-owned Siem Reap Provincial Hospital to a pri­vate property de­vel­opment firm, a Belgian Tech­ni­cal Co­op­era­tion official based in­side the hospital said Wednesday.

The 1.4-hectare site houses the Chronic Disease Clinic, the In­fec­tious Disease Depart­ment, the Tu­ber­culosis Depart­ment, Emergen­cy Room and Re­cep­tion, a training center built by the UN, an administrative building, and a Han­dicap In­ternational rehabilitation center, said Dr Georges Dal­le­mag­ne, co-di­rector of BTC’s provision of basic health services in Siem Reap and Oddar Mean­chey prov­ince.

“The Ministry of Health said the deal is on the table, but no decision has been made by the Coun­cil of Ministers,” Dallemagne said at the hospital on Wednesday, ad­ding that he fears the hospital’s de­partments will be knocked down to make way for apartments.

The hospital land is probably worth about $7 million, he said, ad­ding: “I have some doubt the in­come [from the sale] will go back to the Ministry of Health.”

“Belgium will ask for a clarification and will ask the Prime Mi­nis­ter what is happening,” Dalle­magne said. “It’s public land and it can’t be sold. That’s the law.”

The Chronic Disease Clinic has re­­­gistered about 4,155 patients since 2002, about 1,906 of whom have been HIV/AIDS patients, said Sophie Duterme, Siem Reap pro­­ject coordinator of Medicines Sans Frontiers Belgium. “The main con­cern is for the pa­tients. If this cli­nic isn’t here, they won’t get treat­ment and…will die,” she said.

MSF Belgium has invested $300,000 in construction at the hospital, she added.

Hospital staff said the government is planning to re­locate the buildings to a site about 15 km outside the busy tour­ist town’s center.

Such a move would be too far for patients and staff to travel, and some emergency patients would likely die in the ambulance on the way there, hospital staff warned.

On Tuesday, the director of Ca­na­dia Bank’s Siem Reap branch vi­sit­ed the hospital with three representatives from a construction firm, and surveyed parts of the hos­pital not included in the 1.4 hec­­tares, Lek Ramonith Laurent, a BTC program officer said.

That visit prompted fears that the government may plan to sell the whole hospital.

Ear Khy Meng, Canadia Bank Siem Reap Branch assistant manager, said people visited the hospital to take measurements but de­nied they were bank officials.

Siem Reap Governor Sim Son de­nied the hospital was being sold. But Dr Dy Bun Chhem, Prov­incial Health Department di­rector, said: “I heard about a swap but officially I don’t know.”

Seang Nam, a CPP parliamentarian and managing director of City Angkor Hotel, said he had no in­formation on the hospital’s fu­ture but added that the Siem Reap Dis­trict Office has been swapped with a private firm and has since re­located to outside the center. “Right now [the office] is occupied by a private company,” he said.

Eam Pun, the hospital’s deputy director, said the hospital is well equipped and should not be moved outside the city.

“If the [Ministry of Health] and the Council of Ministers think a hospital in town is polluting the en­vironment, it’s up to them,” he said. “The hospital is [for] the peo­­ple and needs to be close to [them].”





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