Understanding the severe impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on medical support for paediatric cancer patients, the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh joined hands with Thai companies operating in the Kingdom to contribute donations to the Japan Heart Children’s Medical Centre.
The travel restrictions implemented to contain the outbreak have affected Cambodians in critical need of specialised medical treatment, with one such group being paediatric cancer patients.
Panyarak Poolthup, Ambassador of Thailand to Cambodia, said the donation drive was in support of patients in Cambodia who previously were able to travel to neighbouring countries for treatment.
“With travel restrictions imposed by countries globally to curb the spread of Covid-19, it has become difficult for Cambodians to gain access to medical treatment abroad, including children afflicted with life-threatening cancer diseases.
“The Thai Embassy facilitated and provided assistance to Cambodians seeking medical treatment in Thailand. So this was what motivated us to organise this event – to benefit cancer patients receiving treatment from Japan Heart,” he said.
Founded in 2004, Japan Heart is a non-profit, volunteer-based healthcare organisation that operates the Japan Heart Children’s Medical Centre, built within the compound of Ponhea Leu Referral Hospital in Kandal province.
It has been providing free cancer treatments to paediatric patients in the Kingdom since 2018.
To date, Japan Heart Cambodia has accepted close to 50,000 outpatients and performed some 5,000 operations for adults and children – of which 126 were paediatric cancer cases.
Annually, Japan Heart treats more than 10 per cent of Cambodia’s total estimated paediatric cancer patients. Its children’s medical centre in Ponhea Leu specialises in the treatment of abdominal cancer.
“We decided to collaborate with Japan Heart Children’s Medical Centre because they provide specialist treatment to Cambodian children for free.
“And while Japan Heart receives support through Japanese donors and corporate sponsors on a regular basis, the centre requires additional sources of financial aid to enable it to sustain and maintain its quality treatment services.
“Thai companies in Cambodia place significant emphasis on corporate social responsibility, so we extended an invitation for them to join us in this event.
“Past independent and collective initiatives have included offering scholarships to Cambodian students, campaigning for blood donations to save lives and contributing in cash and in kind to disaster relief efforts, to name but a few,” said Panyarak.
Donations to Japan Heart were made both in cash and in kind, with some of the major donors including the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital, SCG Cambodia, Cambodia Air Traffic Services Co, Ltd, Smilephan Co, Ltd (Pop Popular) and Export-Import Bank of Thailand.
PTT (Cambodia) Limited, Da Houg Heng Enterprise Ltd, I-TIC (Cambodia) Co, Ltd, TNP Health Care Co, Ltd, Betagro (Cambodia) Co Ltd, Phnom Penh Hotel, Krung Thai Bank Pcl (Phnom Penh Branch), Modern Plastic & Packaging (Cambodia) Co, Ltd, Mong Khun Group Co, Ltd and Home Access also generously contributed.
The Royal Thai Embassy, meanwhile, donated 10 much needed hospital beds to Japan Heart Children’s Medical Centre in March.
A total of $11,200 was raised in cash and another $10,000 received in kind during the campaign.
Donations and contributions collected during this event will be mainly used to fund free treatments for paediatric cancer patients, as well as other related expenses.
Panyarak sees this initiative as being about reaching out to support one another in a time of need.
“We know how tough and challenging it can be for Cambodians during the pandemic – particularly if your child or a member of the family needs urgent or complicated medical treatment.
“This event is different because it is not about participation by one particular company but collectively by the Thai private sector as a whole. But foremost, it is about one of Cambodia’s closest friends doing as much as it can to assist and support the nation’s underprivileged in times of need.
“And by doing so we hope this small event will be the catalyst for other sectors to help support the Japan Heart Children’s Medical Centre, other hospitals and even other groups of vulnerable people in Cambodia,” he said.