Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - French hearts open to Cambodian children

French hearts open to Cambodian children

French hearts open to Cambodian children

french.jpg
french.jpg

Phnom Penh got its own world class cardiological hospital with the opening of the

Centre de Cardiologie de Phnom Penh on Monivong Boulevard on April 23.

One of the 67 children who were taken to the hospital on opening day, April 23, gets some free treatment for heart-related problems.

The hospital, which boasts the latest in medical technology, is the long held dream

of ebullient French biologist Jean-Claude Prandi.

"When we finished at the [Saigon] Institute of the Heart in 1992 we said 'why

not Phnom Penh?'" Prandi said of the hospital's foundation.

The $4.5 million required to establish the hospital was raised in France through

private donations, with 75% of the money coming from just one philanthropic family.

The hospital will maintain curative and preventative programs with the hope of tackling

the high rates of heart disease among Cambodian children, supported by individual

donors.

"In Cambodia there's anything from 10,000 to 50,000 children with heart problems,"said

Prandi.

Those heart problems, Prandi says, are in 50% of the cases acquired rather than congenital,

something almost unheard of in Western countries. The heart ailments are rooted in

untreated streptococcus infections in children which produce a toxin which attacks

the heart valves.

"For just $2 worth of [penicillin] we can prevent this [condition]" Prandi

said.

In response to the high rates of heart disease, the hospital will provide free treatment

to Cambodian children and low cost care to adult heart patients. With final touches

to the facility complete the hospital took charge of 67 children on the opening day,

the first from a database of 1000 children set to receive treatment over the first

two years of the hospital's operation.

With a volunteer staff of seven expatriates including two heart surgeons and a training

program for Cambodian health professionals, Prandi hopes to build Cambodia's capacity

for the treatment of heart disease.

"We have 25 Cambodian [health professionals] being trained in France and Saigon

at the moment" said Prandi, adding that he hoped that the hospital could be

entirely staffed by Cambodian nationals in five to 10 years.

Prandi says the existence of the hospital will also forestall the need for Cambodians

to go abroad for expensive treatment.

"Our mid-price for open heart surgery should be around $2,000," Prandi

said. "This is nothing because in Boston this costs $100,000, in Singapore $15,000

and Bangkok between $11,000 and $15,000."

Prandi was uncertain whether the new hospital's cut-rate heart surgery costs would,

like Thailand and Singapore, attract large numbers of expatriate heart patients unable

to afford such surgery in their own country.

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