Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen promises new fund to keep Kantha Bopha hospitals running

Hun Sen promises new fund to keep Kantha Bopha hospitals running

Doctors treat an emergency case at main Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh in July. Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced plans to create a second foundation to help keep the hospitals running.
Doctors treat an emergency case at main Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh in July. Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced plans to create a second foundation to help keep the hospitals running. Sahiba Chawdhary

Hun Sen promises new fund to keep Kantha Bopha hospitals running

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced plans to form a second foundation to raise funds to keep the Kantha Bopha children’s hospitals afloat, though with the government poised to take over management of the hospitals, one observer questioned why it wasn’t providing a sustainable source of funding from the state coffers.

Dr Beat Richner, the prominent Swiss-born doctor who rebuilt the hospitals, was forced to step down from his more than two-decade role of managing the hospitals last March due to a brain disease, which causes memory loss. The majority of the funding to run the hospitals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap currently comes from donations to the Kantha Bopha Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland. It costs $42 million annually to run the hospitals, which treat children free of charge.

In a speech to a group of cyclo drivers yesterday, Hun Sen praised his government’s increased support for the hospitals, though even after a $4 million dollar increase to its funding this year, the state still pays for less than a quarter of the hospitals’ operating costs. In addition, $2 from every ticket sale at the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park are earmarked for the hospital, and the Cambodian Red Cross – run by Hun Sen’s wife, Bun Rany – has pledged to make a $1 million yearly contribution.

“There is a Kantha Bopha foundation in Switzerland already, but we will establish another Kantha Bopha foundation, and I will be the honorary head in order to collect more resources for the Kantha Bopha hospitals, which have treated a lot of children,” Hun Sen said yesterday.

“We cannot say we lost Mr Beat Richner, [so] the hospitals [went] bankrupt.”

Dr Denis Laurent, Kantha Bopha’s deputy director, said the hospitals were aware of the announcement as an inter-ministerial committee from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economy and Finance has been working to find funding solutions for the hospitals.

“It’s very good,” he said. “Now this new foundation is going to try to find more and more funds.”

But Laurent added that more should be done, though donations from Switzerland have not yet begun to decrease.

Chum Sopha, executive director of the NGO Health and Development Alliance, said the creation of the foundation was a good idea, but he believed the hospitals should instead be funded by the Ministry of Health or the government should at least bear a higher percentage of the overall costs.

“If the ministry funded 70 to 80 percent, it would be good,” he said. “It’s more sustainable if the government contributed through tax money. People pay for the people.”

Several members of the inter-ministerial committee couldn’t be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At