“On Sunday we had a ceremony for Angkor Hospital for Children’s 14th year anniversary and it was also the handover ceremony from Friends Without A Border,” says deputy director of AHC, Dr Ngoun Chanpheaktra.
US-based NGO Friends Without A Border was founded in 1996 to establish a children’s hospital in Siem Reap. This opened in 1999 as AHC.
“Friends Without A Border has been primarily responsible for helping to develop the hospital over the years and has overseen it,” says newly-appointed chairman Robert Gazzi.
“So the ceremony and party on Sunday was to formally hand over the keys of the hospital, if you like, to the new organisation which is Asian based.”
Over the last year Friends has been working with AHC to make the hospital independent and, eventually, self-reliant. Cambodian staff have been assuming increased responsibility and AHC has a new board of directors overseeing hospital management, made up of people who live “in this part of the world,” says Gazzi.
“The board will comprise of people who have a lot of local knowledge and experience from different walks of life, be they from the medical side of things, the business side, the commercial side, the financial side or the NGO side,” he says. “It’s a mix of skills and expertise.”
“They are all experienced in Cambodia, know Cambodia well and are used to working in Cambodia,” says Ngoun, who was himself one of the very first junior doctors to work in AHC when it first opened, with a staff of only three Khmer doctors and three nurses.
Founder Kenro Izu, who attended Sunday’s ceremony, will continue to serve as one of the seven members on the board.
“He has been with them all the way so it’s really important that he continues to be very heavily involved and help us with his vision,” says Gazzi.
In 2011 AHC treated its millionth patient. With a mainly Cambodian staff of more than 360, AHC has become what the Minister of Health referred to as,
“one of only three essential healthcare institutions in the country” – and the only children’s hospital on the list.