Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) is a non-profit pediatric teaching hospital that operates in cooperation with the Cambodian government to provide free, quality healthcare to impoverished children in Siem Reap.
According to Sinketh Arun, the external relations manager of AHC: “Today the number of children-patients have increased to 500, sometimes rising to 600 per day; while when we started in 1999 our Outpatient Department (OPD) saw an average of 67 children per day.
“In 2013, from January to August, 61,433 children were seen in OPD and 187 heart surgeries were performed,” Arun said.
“In the same period in 2012 there were 79,584 patients – because of the outbreak of hand, foot mouth disease and dengue fever.
“In July 2013, there were 10,945 patients who have been treated here, while 26-27 per cent of them were infected by upper respiratory infections, diarrhea patients were between 6-7 per cent and dengue fever patients only 2 per cent,” Arun added.
She said that from 1999 until now, the AHC has provided more than 1,000,000 medical treatments, educated thousands of Cambodian health workers and given prevention training to hundreds of families.
Arun said the hospital offers inpatient and outpatient care, surgical services including heart surgery, ER, intensive care treatment, dental care, ophthalmologic services and antiretroviral HIV therapy to more than 150,000 children each year.
The hospital also has a pharmacy, physiotherapy and radiology services, a medical laboratory and a social work program.
“Along with providing quality healthcare to children in Cambodia, AHC is a training site for improving the skills of healthcare workers,” Arun said.
“In 2005 it was officially recognised as Cambodia’s first teaching hospital, one of only two in the country. Today it serves as a training site for the World Health Organization’s Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses Program.
“The most common ailments treated at the hospital include pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration, diarrheal illness, HIV/AIDS, dengue fever, malaria and other tropical diseases,” she said.
“The majority of patients travel from rural areas to seek better care than can be found in their own communities. For the neediest of patients, not only are they provided with free healthcare, but their travel costs are reimbursed.”
Founded in 1999 by Kenro Izu, AHC has been supported by US-registered NGO Friends Without A Border for the past 14 years.
It has always been a goal of the hospital to become an Asian-supported foundation and ultimately an established Cambodian foundation.
This year marks the year when Angkor Hospital for Children will become an international NGO incorporated in Hong Kong, transitioning from a US to an Asian foundation. During this time the operation of the hospital, its management and its vision remain the same.
On September 13 AHC will hold an opening ceremony for its new neonatology ward, which will enable it to play a much greater role in addressing one of the major contributors to Cambodia’s child mortality – neonatal illnesses.
This new unit is a major step forwards for AHC and it will replace the temporary unit which was created early in 2012, sharing space with the Inpatient Department.
One of the hospital’s success stories was with a one-month-old boy named Makara.
After Makara was delivered at home, with help from a traditional midwife, warning signs presented themselves. These included a low temperature, difficulty breathing and pale skin.
His parents took him to a health centre, but staff rejected hospitalisation because he required treatment from highly skilled doctors, which they did not have. The health centre staff recommended his parents take him to Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC).
Makara’s father borrowed money from a neighbour in order to travel in a shared taxi from their village at Banteay Meanchey province about three hours to reach Siem Reap city.
Upon arrival at AHC, Makara was immediately admitted to the ICU ward where he was treated in an incubator for a week with a strong antibiotic medicine called Imipenem.
In addition, he was given oxygen, intravenous fluid and warm blankets to keep his body at its proper temperature until his condition stabilised.
After seeing an improvement the pediatrician transferred him to the IPD where he stayed for two weeks.
Finally, Makara was discharged after he gained weight and his condition has greatly improved.