The Angkor Hospital for Children launched a campaign to “save children’s lives from cancer” on October 24. Fundraising activities are scheduled to continue until December 12.
Dr Nguon Chanpheaktra, director of the hospital, explained that the hospitals comprehensive cancer screening and care services cost between $350,000 and $450,000 a year to run.
“Without adequate funding, cancer screening and care could be reduced or face closure, affecting the lives of the many Cambodian children who receive these services from Angkor hospital,” he said.
He added that this was the first time the hospital had focused its fundraising activities on its cancer ward. He hoped that the campaign would raise about $100,000, thanks to the participation of several famous actors and singers, along with philanthropists, both foreign and domestic.
“If every compatriot makes a monthly or annual contribution to the hospital, we will achieve our goal all the sooner. Remember, each of us has the power to save a child’s life, now or in the future,” he said.
Sam Livannak, a cancer specialist at the hospital, explained that cancer – which occurs when cells in the body transform uncontrollably and spread to other organs – can affect anyone, including very young children. In Cambodia, the number of cancer cases is increasing, he warned.
“The number of children who die before diagnosis is not clear, but research shows the survival rate for those who go undiagnosed is as low as 20 percent. Almost all child cancer cases are referred to Angkor Hospital for Children. We are often their only option,” he said.
He added that the cancer department opened in 2012 to diagnose and care for this deadly disease. In 2021, the hospital opened a separate cancer-focused building. So far, it has treated 508 paediatric cancer patients, three-quarters of whom recovered.
He explained that cancer treatment could include many procedures, including surgery, chemotherapy, laser therapy and cryotherapy (a treatment where your healthcare provider applies extreme cold to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue) and pain relief.
“Cancer treatment is very stressful for children and families, so we also include psychological and financial support services for cancer patients and their parents. This includes counselling, a travel allowance and food packages and so on,” he said.
Dr Khov Phara, Head of Ophthalmology, said that due to a funding crisis and the increasing number of patients, the hospital was calling on the public to support the fundraising campaign.
“As an ophthalmologist at Angkor hospital, I have treated many children with cataract cancer. Most patients’ parents are shocked when their child is diagnosed. Ophthalmologists and oncologists work closely with each other to treat each child,” he added.
In the first week of the campaign, the hospital organised a number of activities, including press conferences, the launch of promotional video content on social media and celebrity endorsements. The hospital’s corporate partners had expanded their appeals, and various international partners had shared information about the campaign.