Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Ministry of Health to prepare several hundred beds at the Techo Santepheap National Hospital so any of Team Cambodia’s athletes who are injured while training or competing will be able to access free treatment.

The newly-built hospital, which is slated for inauguration later this year, will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and staffed by a large team of medical specialists. Located on an 8ha site on the northwestern outskirts of the capital, in Prek Pnov district’s Kouk Roka commune, the hospital will be able to accommodate up to 11,000 patients.

Hun Sen gave the instruction to minister Mam Bun Heng and ministry secretary of state York Sambath as he expressed concerns about the welfare of the Kingdom’s athletes.

“In the past, many footballers and boxers faced financial difficulties after injuring themselves. In fact, my wife has had to support several boxers herself. If a person is injured while striving to bring glory to Cambodia, we should take care of them,” he said in a social media post on February 15.

“After contemplating my concerns, I spoke with Bunheng and Sambath, and instructed them to prepare a ward with 100 to 200 beds to treat athletes. The treatment should be conducted by the appropriate medical specialists, and no fees should be charged,” he added.

Hun Sen considered the policy a morale boost for Team Cambodia, as they prepare to win medals at the upcoming 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, hosted for the first time by the Kingdom.

The Techo Santepheap National Hospital, located on an 8ha site on the northwestern outskirts of the capital, in Prek Pnov district’s Kouk Roka commune, is slated for inauguration later this year. PHOTO SUPPLIED

“I have told the ministry to expedite this work. Should the worst occur, I urge all athletes to seek treatment at the Santepheap hospital,” he said.

The announcement of the free medical care was met with jubilation by the Kingdom’s sporting federations and athletes, for some of whom unexpected medical costs were a constant fear.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), said many of the Kingdom’s sporting federations had been considering establishing similar programmes for injured athletes, but the premier’s announcement meant they could now dedicate themselves to preparing for the May games.

“Thiswill provide massive encouragement to the athletes of Team Cambodia, especially the boxers and kickboxers. In my experience, they are the ones most likely need treatment, usually for concussions or broken bones,” he said.

Cambodian boxer Sen Radeth, who claimed a silver medal in Vovinam at the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam, expressed joy in his comment on the premier’s Facebook post. “Not having to worry about the cost of injuries allows us to focus more on our training.”

Kim Srun Kosal, president of Mas Fight Cambodia, said this will greatly encourage the growth of sports in the Kingdom.