With five part-time Japanese doctors, two fulltime Cambodian doctors and a fleet of nurses, Sun International Clinic in Phnom Penh brings with it Japanese medical advancements, the latest technology and specialized care for Cambodians, expats and the Japanese community living in the Kingdom.
Operating since April 2014, the clinic plans on expanding the services it offers while training Cambodian doctors with the latest practices.
For instance, Dr Nobuo Kubo, the resident ENT specialist who earned his PHD in Japan, practiced for many years at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, taught at Harvard University and focuses on nose, throat and inner ear conditions like asthma, sinus infections and vertigo. He performs endoscopic consultations and surgeries.
With over 4000 successful endoscopic surgeries and over 1000 rhinoplasty surgeries—a form of plastic surgery that corrects and reconstructs the nose and nasal passages—Dr Kubo said that he came to Cambodia to provide his skills, which would broaden treatment options available in the Kingdom.
“I really want to contribute to the Cambodian medical community with my experience in dealing with sinus surgery,” he said. He added that the “first priority is treating the patient and the second is teaching the doctors who use advanced equipment.”
“In Cambodia, the doctors are still very conservative and traditional. They believe it is best to prescribe medicine when really a non-invasive simple surgery is the best option for the patient,” he said.
With his endoscopic machine, which involves a small tube with a camera and led light attached that can be inserted in the nose, throat and ear—allowing both the doctor and patient to see what is happening via a video monitor—the technique is very safe under a trained surgeon.
“My techniques and technology are very visualized and easy to understand. You can see what is going on through the screen, and step by step, I can teach [doctors] what is going on. Sinuses are a very dangerous field because it involves the brain, arteries and eyes, so you have to be careful. But if the doctor understands anatomy 100 per cent, there is no risk,” he said.
To date, he has performed 15 endoscopic surgeries in the Kingdom with 60 per cent of his patients being Cambodian.
Building on the success of his practice, in October, he will begin offering breast augmentation surgery.
“The surgery takes maybe 30 minutes with very small incisions of only 2 to 3 centimeters on the side of the breast. With almost no swelling, patients are hospitalized for just one day,” he said. He added that with minimal scarring, the surgery provides flawless results.
By having a clinic in Phnom Penh and one in Tokyo, he expects inbound and outbound medical treatment to increase due to the rising income levels in Cambodia, ASEAN integration and Japanese patients looking for more affordable options for care.
While he explained that Thailand has more expertise in organ transplants, the benefits of Japan medical practitioners includes advanced stem cell therapy and research, nuclear medicine for treating cancer and inexpensive Hepatitis C treatment.
“Now many people from Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Vietnam and Korea are coming to Japan for these treatments,” he said, adding that having a clinic in Phnom Penh is just the first step in bringing these treatments to the Greater Mekong sub region.
With the support of more Japanese doctors, he plans on opening up branches in both Thailand and Vietnam so that patients can have consultations before flying to Phnom Penh before undergoing a procedure.
Kubo sees countries like Cambodia and Thailand as having a lot of potential to not just grow in terms of healthcare but also in terms of research that could revolutionize modern day medicine.
As a firm believer in the potential of stem cell research and therapy and currently running a research clinic in Tokyo called Sun Field Clinic, he believes research could come to Cambodia.