Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Children’s saviour Richner dead at 71



Children’s saviour Richner dead at 71

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Dr Beat Richner poses with a child patient. facebook

Children’s saviour Richner dead at 71

Dr Beat “Beatocello” Richner, the founder of the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals, passed away in his native Switzerland at 2:45am on Sunday after a battle with a serious illness, Minister of Health Mom Bun Heng told The Post on Sunday. He was 71.

“Dr Richner leaves behind an exceptional legacy deserving admiration,” said a Kantha Bopha Foundation statement on Sunday.

“Afflicted by a serious illness, he left Cambodia last year and returned to his native Zurich, where he spent the last months of his life.

“He left everything behind to answer the call of [former king of Cambodia] Norodom Sihanouk, who asked him to rebuild the children’s hospital in Phnom Penh, destroyed during the reign of terror of the Khmer Rouge,” it said.

Bun Heng said: “I am very regretful and deeply mourning the death of Dr Beat Richner, the founder of Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals. I will organise a formal memorial for Richner at 3pm [on Monday] at the Ministry of Health.”

Regarding the memorial for Richner, the minister said it will be open to the public.

However, “those wishing to pay their respects should notify the ministry to avoid a situation where everybody comes at the same time . . . as space at the ministry is very tight”.

Bun Heng added: “We are very sad. We have lost one of the strongest supporters to have helped Cambodia, and [a man who] saved [millions] of Cambodian children’s lives.”

Kantha Bopha Foundation deputy director Dr Denis Laurent said he would be meeting with his team at the Kantha Bopha hospital on Monday and organise a traditional Cambodian memorial.

“Regarding the Kantha Bopha hospital, I have told my team [and] we will meet [on Monday] morning. We will organise a ceremony,” Dr Laurent said.

Richner “stepped down from his position as managing director of the Kantha Bopha hospitals in Cambodia” on March 28, last year, according to the Foundation of Children’s Hospitals Kantha Bopha. He did not make further public appearances because of his illness.

Richner received his medical degree in 1973 and specialised in paediatrics. He was sent to Cambodia in 1974 and 1975 by the Swiss Red Cross to work at the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital, according to the Dr Beat Richner website.

He was forced to return to Switzerland and worked at the Zurich Children’s Hospital, his previous posting. In 1980 he opened a practice in Zurich.

In December 1991, Richner was asked by the Cambodian government to rebuild and manage the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital, which had been destroyed during Cambodia’s civil war, a call he answered.

On September 22, 1992, the Kantha Bopha I hospital was inaugurated in Phnom Penh, with it fully operational on November 2.

Over the following years, the hospital was progressively extended and modified to meet the most urgent needs of its patients.

Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals have been operating for 26 years and have saved the lives of millions of Cambodian children.

A talented and keen cellist, Richner would regularly hold performances to raise funds to support the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals, which employ more than 2,500 personnel.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,

  • More than 540 deported in first nine months

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) deported 542 foreigners in the first nine months of this year for various offences. GDI spokesman Keo Vanthan said the deportees were a mix of 40 nationalities, most of them Chinese. Since 2014, he said the GDI had