The unresolved crowding crisis at the Kantha Bopha 1 Children's Hospital has
prompted threats by founder Dr Beat Richner to shut both his children's
hospitals in Phnom Penh by the year end. He warned that 2,000 children a month
would die if that happened.
Richner outlined several conditions in a
letter sent on October 20 to the Ministry of Health (MoH), and also delivered to
King Norodom Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen.
His principal demand is
for more land at Kantha Bopha 1 to meet the growing demand for its free
services. Failing that, he said, the ministry should improve conditions at other
children's hospitals to reduce the demand at Kantha Bopha 1, which is badly
Richner said the MoH had done nothing to solve the problem,
despite secretary of state Dr Mam Bun Heng telling him the ministry would try.
Bun Heng's only comment to the Post was that it was "an internal meeting between
Kantha Bopha 1 currently sees 2,000 outpatients a day, and
is in desperate need of a new outpatient center, intensive care unit and
surgery. Richner said he was now pinning his hopes on the support of the
In his reply to Richner, the King indicated that he was aware of
the difficulties and offered his "unshakable support". He wrote that Hun Sen
might be able to solve the crisis.
"I hope that His Excellency Samdech
Hun Sen, head of the government ... will be able to help you to overcome these
difficulties, because Samdech is a great patriot and a great leader who
understands the highest interests of the country, the people and the children of
Cambodia," the King wrote in French on 24 October.
Richner said Hun Sen
would attend the inauguration of a new education center at the third Kantha
Bopha hospital in Siem Reap this month.
"I still think that on 12
November I will meet the Prime Minister and there will be a solution, we can
solve the problem," said Richner. "If not, we must soon decide."
demanded an apology from Minister Hong Sun Huot over comments made in the media,
and called for cooperation with his hospital rather than falsified statistics he
said the ministry had issued.
Kantha Bopha's projections estimate that
50,000 children will be treated as in-patients this year, and another 600,000
will be seen as outpatients. The main ailments are tuberculosis, malaria and
dengue fever. The hospitals are named after one of King Sihanouk's daughters,
who died in 1952 of leukemia.