Japan Heart – an international medical NGO – has decided to provide medical support for Kroch Chhmar district referral hospital in Tbong Khmum province, in response to a request for assistance from Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara.
Hideto Yoshioka, a pediatric surgeon and founder of Japan Heart – led his delegation and Kroch Chhmar hospital medical staff to discuss the assistance with Sophara at his ministry's headquarters back on June 30.
The NGO, which has a medical facility to treat children with cancer in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district, plan on providing comprehensive support for the Kroch Chhmar hospital – currently under renovation with new buildings constructed on land totalling more than 13,000sqm.
The funds for the construction of the hospital, located in Kroch Chhmar commune’s Khsach Chheu Leu village, came from Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany, with the planning details handled by Sophara.
At the meeting, Sophara expressed his gratitude for Japan Heart's support and his deep concern for the plight of rural residents who suffer from disparities in access to medical care, especially noting the importance of an obstetrics department for delivering healthy babies in a manner that protects the mother's safety.
“I am also from Tbong Khmum province and there are serious problems with healthcare there. It’s difficult to build a hospital there because we cannot run one with just one doctor and we need to run it 24 hours a day far into the future.
"Although people can sometimes depend on hospitals in other provinces, it’s a long way to reach them and it takes a long time to travel," he said. "We want Japan Heart to work with us to provide services to those who have difficulty accessing medical services presently in Tbong Khmum,” he said.
In response, Yoshioka – who recently returned from Japan to operate on 10 Cambodian children with cancer – said the Kroch Chhmar hospital needs more planning time in order for it to move forward smoothly.
"We have been helping the Kroch Chhmar hospital for many years. The Cambodian staff are very talented and we will be training human resources to ensure the people there will be receiving better medical coverage," he said.
He added that paediatric cancer remains a top priority for Japan Heart as mortality rates from the affliction remain high.
“Diseases of particular concern include paediatric cancer, which still has a lower survival rate than it does in Japan and we are going to work to close this gap by improving care in Cambodia,” he said.
Japan Heart plans to provide support to the referral hospital over the next few years, including dispatch of medical staff to the province as necessary.
Medical supplies worth more than $260,000 have been provided to the hospital to increase its capacity for better medical services.
The original hospital was first built in 1966, and the construction of the first new building at the site was completed at the end of 2021 at a cost of $1.4 million.