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Kantha Bopha opens fifth unit

Kantha Bopha opens fifth unit

The Kantha Bopha children's hospital network will open a fifth hospital next door

to its first hospital near Wat Phnom on Dec 28 in a ceremony with King Norodom Sihamoni

and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hospital director Beat Richner said the $9 million, four-floor hospital, which took

a year to build, will include 300 beds and nine hospital units. Construction funding

came from private donors, mostly from Switzerland, said Richner.

The first ward of Kantha Bopha V will open January 15. Other wards will open in the

following days.

A tour of the facility this week showed white washed walls and spotless floors, a

far cry from the blood-splattered, rodent infested units of major hospitals in the


Richner said that additional construction has also begun at one of his hospitals

in Siem Reap. Space for 300 new beds will be ready next November.

Richner said the new hospital was needed because in 2006 the number of hospitalized

children at Kantha Bopha in Phnom Penh increased by 50 percent.

He said this year during the dengue fever epidemic, 24,000 patients had to be hospitalized

in the four Cambodian Kantha Bopha hospitals. Sometimes two or three patients had

to share a bed.

"The dengue case proved it was a good decision to build the new hospital,"

Richner said. "We will not have an over capacity."

The new facility contains centers for x-ray, sonography centers, vaccinations, laboratories

and a histopathology testing center for testing tissue samples and detection of diseases

such as tuberculosis. A second hematology lab will also be used to test the overflow

of blood specimens from Kantha Bopha IV.

The first Kantha Bopha pediatric hospital opened in 1992 with 80 beds and a staff

of 16 foreigners and 68 Khmers.

The hospital network now employs a staff of 2,000 Cambodians and only two permanent

foreign staff.

Treatment at Kantha Bopha hospitals is free, including medication and surgical procedures.

Operating funds for the hospitals come from the governments of Cambodia and Switzerland

and private donors.

To combat the common practice of doctors charging their patients an 'unofficial'

fee, wages are kept relatively high. Nurses earn $400 per month, doctors are paid

$800-1,000 and cleaning staff are paid $250.

Richner said that 85% of the children in Cambodia are treated at one of the Kantha

Bopha hospitals. The claim is disputed by other hospitals and medical groups within


"I don't know if national figures are correct but ours are," Richner said.

"I know myself how few are hospitalized in each province."


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