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

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said