The Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap is implementing a “patient contribution fee” for consultation services of 20,000 riel ($5) per visit as well as hospital stay fees of 20,000 riel per night from July 7, representing a significant shift in policy for the hospital which up until now had been providing free medical check-ups for more than 20 years.
In a press release on June 29, AHC said the patient contribution fees are necessary in order for the hospital to continue providing high-quality healthcare to all Cambodian children in need of medical services.
It said the hospital had provided free high-quality and compassionate medical care for more than 20 years, offering a wide range of speciality and critical services such as oncology, neonatal and neuro-developmental care.
Additionally, AHC has provided medical training to Cambodian healthcare professionals and to rural community health education programmes.
The hospital said it does not plan on instituting any reductions in services or its training initiatives, rather the use of the patient fees may possibly help them to expand these programmes.
“AHC will begin to implement a Patient Contribution Fee system starting July 7. For those who can afford it, there will be a contribution fee for the medical costs of our outpatient and inpatient services. For inpatient services, the Patient Contribution Fee will be a fixed amount of 20,000 riel or $5 per night,” the release said.
Dr Ngoun Chanpheaktra, the hospital's director, said that for many years AHC had been funded solely by the generosity of international and local donors, but in recent years donations from overseas have been reduced and while the Cambodian community has stepped up to help raise additional funds, they are still struggling to raise the total amount necessary to keep the hospital running.
He said the patient fees would not be imposed on families who cannot afford them without it causing them significant hardship, and he sees the fees as a means of “Khmer helping Khmer”, with those more able to pay helping those who are less able to pay.
"Together, we will make sure the doors of AHC stay open for many years to come and continue to save and improve the lives of children in Cambodia," he said. “The hospital will continue to offer the same high quality, compassionate care to every child who requires our services, regardless of whether they are rich or poor."
He confirmed that all healthcare services would remain free of charge for patients from households with a valid IDPoor card, Health Equity Fund Card or those who have completed an assessment with an AHC social worker who finds that they are eligible for assistance.
He said that regardless of whether or not patients can contribute by paying the fees, AHC would leave no child unwell and every child will receive the same high-quality, compassionate care and treatment.
He noted that AHC continues to receive donor support to subsidise the cost of medical care and services and patients who can afford to contribute will only be paying a fraction of the total costs, with the remainder covered by local and international donors.
“We hope patient families who can afford to pay will join AHC to support the availability and continued development of high-quality, compassionate, specialised healthcare for all our children in Cambodia,” he said.
Chhoem Sovong, finance deputy director of AHC, said the hospital was announcing this change to the public in advance to advise all parents and guardians of Cambodian children that AHC services in Siem Reap will remain available and open for everyone regardless of their ability to pay, but those families who are able to contribute to AHC's budget by paying the fees will be helping the hospital and their community a great deal.