Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng announced that Luong Mer Hospital – the largest cancer hospital in Cambodia once open – will be operational in the next four to six months after the renovations are completed and all of the medical equipment is installed.

He confirmed this on January 3 while inspecting the renovation of the building of Luong Mer, which had been used to treat Covid-19 patients at the peak of the pandemic, to convert it into a cancer hospital at the behest of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“The hospital will be operational in the next four to six months when we complete the renovations because we have already prepared some health professionals to work there, although we do not have enough staff yet. But we will continue to expand staff as needed and we have set up beds for up to 100 patients,” Bun Heng said.

The hospital’s core staff has already been determined by the ministry, including administrative leaders and general staff as well as the technicians who operate specialised medical equipment.

The preparations were done in collaboration with the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital and Calmette Hospital, which both have experience with all kinds of equipment, he noted.

“Working on cancer treatment is more difficult than treating Covid-19 patients. Covid-19 is also a serious disease, but it is only one disease. There are many types of cancer such as liver, brain, cervical, breast, stomach and colon cancers, which require a lot of modern equipment and treatments like radiation,” he said.

Hun Sen instructed Bun Heng to convert Luong Mer into a specialised hospital for cancer treatment in May, 2022.

Eav Sokha, director of Orange Cancer Clinic in Phnom Penh, said cancer is not just a problem in Cambodia, but a global public health issue.

Cancer has the highest mortality rate of any disease, according to a 2010 World Health Organisation (WHO) study.

One study by the WHO in 2018 that attempted to describe the general situation in Cambodia for cancer noted that there were 15,362 cancer patients that year, 11,636 of them, or 75 per cent, died.