Speech by Dr. Beat RICHNER
at the occasion of the corner stone Ceremony of Kantha Bopha IV

August 2004

Samdech Hun Sen,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First some words to the history:
29 years ago, 19974/75 I worked in Kantha Bopha I as a young pediatrician under Dr. Nut Savoeng until April 1975. 12 years ago we restored the Kantha Bopha Hospital. Its inauguration was in September 1992.
1996 we inaugurated the second Hospital Kantha Bopha II, 1999 the third Hospital, Jayavarman VII in Angkor and 2001 the Maternity in Angkor.
The actual situation:
Today we hospitalize per year 67 000 sick children. 80 % have no chance without these facilities. Day by day we admit 220 children. Day by day there are 3000 sick children to be treated in the outpatient stations. In the maternity there are 600 deliveries per month.
All the Hospitals are overcrowded. In Siem Reap we could buy an additional land for 850 000 USD. The extension under construction will soon be ready (300 additional beds).
In Kantha Bopha I the conditions are no more tolerable. The Hospital is too small, its buildings too old, its structure destroyed.
In February we could buy this land for 2,5 Millions USD. In April I asked one Million Swiss people to contribute 20 Swiss Francs. Up to now we got 60% of the needed amount. Today we start the construction. On this occasion let me thank to all the thousands of Swiss donators for their contribution. Thanks to their immediate response of solidarity we can now start the construction.
A large outpatient station, a large surgery with four theaters and 250 beds. Three Intensive Care Units with 120 beds. Two Neonatal wards with 80 beds. And 250 more beds for pediatrics. A new central Laboratory, a new imaging department.
Why the Kantha Bopha Hospitals are overcrowded? Why day by day 3000 sick outpatients? Why day by day 220 severely sick children have to be admitted? The system Kantha Bopha is a system of Justice, where every child has the right to be treated in a correct way, if poor or rich. And 90% are miserably poor. All is free of charge. Our medical protocols are correct, the same as in the western world. Our drugs are correct and efficient, the same as in the west. Our facilities are modern and correct. You need these facilities to do a correct diagnosis. And only a correct diagnosis allows a correct treatment.
The Budget of running and operating costs this year is 17 Millions USD. In Kantha Bopha there are 1450 Cambodian staff and only three foreigners included me ( Dr. Denis Laurent, and Laurent Gross for the construction ). The mortality rate in our three hospitals is only 1,2 %! Only 1,2%! These are the reasons, why the hospitals are overcrowded.
The average hospitalization time is 5 days, the average costs per hospitalization (not per night as in Hotel or in a modern prison) is 170 USD.
Still there are experts telling you, that this is too expensive for a poor country such as Cambodia. But we can tell these Experts, that the Kantha Bopha's relation costs / healing rate is better than in all other institutions in Cambodia, is better than in similar institutions evaluated in 40 other poor countries by an independent neutral evaluation team.
It is the right for all sick children to get a correct and efficient treatment. If poor or rich. And it is the duty of the authorities, the national and the international authorities to implement this right and not to prevent it from being implemented. Today is still told by the International community: you have by these hospitals Kantha Bopha created needs for the poor masses, which did not exist before. You have to wait until your facilities correspond to the development index of Cambodia. This attitude is wrong, wrong in the moral sense, wrong in the professional sense, wrong in any political sense, wrong in any economic sense.
That is why we wrote The Angkor Declaration for correct medicine for every sick child. For free treatment for every sick and poor child. First to sign was His Majesty The King Norodom Sihanouk. Second the former President of the ICRC Geneva, Dr.Cornelio Sommaruga. C. Sommaruga brought the Angkor Declartion to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on March 17th 2004.
Already 200 000 Cambodians have signed. Cambodians who have made their experience in our Hospitals. So this is the will of the Cambodian people to be respected. So let us hope that this Angkor Declaration will be a corner stone in the Health policy of the new Minister of Health. The background for the needed actions of the new Ministry of Health. A corner stone for the future fate of Cambodian children .
I thank you very much                                                                          Beat Richner

 Read also speech by Prime minister SAMDECH HUN SEN
Back Info Kantha Bopha IV





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