The Phnom Penh Capital Administration and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Cambodia Office have unveiled a landmark project, which aims to enhance healthcare services in the capital and surrounding regions.

The new initiative, backed by an $11 million budget, is set to transform the Dangkor Referral Hospital into Phnom Penh's first CPA level-2 hospital.

The CPA, or Complementary Package of Activities, system is used by many nations, including Cambodia, to categorise healthcare facilities based on the range and complexity of services they provide.

“With a current population of 159,772, Dangkor district's industrial growth and proximity to the new Techo International Airport are spurring a rapid population increase, highlighting the urgent need for improved public services, particularly in healthcare,” said KOICA. 

Recognising this necessity, the municipal administration sought support for upgrades to the referral hospital last year, leading to KOICA's involvement in the project.

On June 11, Phnom Penh governor Khhoung Sreng and KOICA Cambodia Office country director Moon Jung Choi signed the Record of Discussion for the "Project for Improvement of Public Health Services in Dangkor District Referral Hospital, Phnom Penh, Cambodia". 

This document outlines the project's objectives, key details and the responsibilities of both parties.

“The project includes the construction of a new hospital facility equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment,” said KOICA. 

It aims to not only enhance the overall quality of services, but will strengthen the emergency trauma care system. Medical staff will undergo capacity-building programmes to ensure they can provide top-tier care to the community.

“The project is expected to benefit not only local residents but also patients from across the country who seek care at national hospitals,” said KOICA.

It will serve as a model for other health facilities in Phnom Penh in terms of service quality, referral systems, and management plans, aligning with phase one of the government's Pentagonal Strategy and relevant health policies, it added.

Pheng Poline, director of the hospital, said: “Currently, Dangkor District Referral Hospital treats an average of 150 patients per day and has enough doctors, medicine, and medical equipment to provide services". 

However, the building is not large enough to accommodate the growing number of patients, he added.

Phnom Penh governor Khhoung Sreng (centre, right) and KOICA Cambodia Office country director Moon Jung Choi (centre) sign the Record of Discussion for planned upgrades to Dangkor Referral Hospital on June 11. KOICA

 “The project to upgrade the referral hospital is very important, especially with KOICA's assistance in improving the building and equipment. The people who we will serve come not just from Dangkor district. We will treat the residents of Khan Kambol, as well as some communes in Meanchey and Kandal Stung districts, totaling about 300,000 people,” he told The Post.

KOICA, a South Korean bilateral grant aid agency, has been active in Cambodia since 2003, implementing various development cooperation programs in the education, health and rural development sectors. 

Public health is a priority, with KOICA allocating $89 million to the sector, accounting for 23 per cent of its total support to date. 

This included projects like establishing ophthalmology and ENT hospitals at Preah Ang Duong Hospital and enhancing the National Pediatric Hospital's infrastructure and capacity.

KOICA has also focused on maternal and child health services in Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces, establishing health centers and training healthcare personnel. 

It has implemented non-communicable disease (NCD) management projects in Prek Pnov District, Phnom Penh, and Thmar Koul District, Battambang, raising awareness and enhancing local healthcare capacities.

The new project at Dangkor Referral Hospital marks a significant expansion of KOICA's efforts, and upgrading the first CPA1 hospital to CPA2 in Phnom Penh represents a serious challenge. 

This initiative is expected to catalyse the development of the health sector in Phnom Penh and pave the way for further collaboration between KOICA and the municipal administration, ultimately improving the quality of life for Cambodian people.