In 1992, paediatrician Beat Richner (1947–2018) left his practice in Zurich to rebuild the destroyed children's clinic in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. In the years that followed, his Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital Foundation built four more children's hospitals supported by funding from the SDC. Today, these clinics care for more than 80 per cent of all sick and injured children in the country.
Major improvements to healthcare
"The Kantha Bopha hospitals are now run as public university hospitals and are an essential part of the Cambodian health system. This is a big step in terms of development," said SDC Director General Patricia Danzi at the signing of the contribution agreement for the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital Foundation in Bern. "Over the past 30 years, they have significantly improved healthcare for the population, and especially for children, and set new standards." The hospitals have developed a solid model of highly specialised paediatric services that can care for more than one million outpatients and inpatients per year. In addition, more than 20,000 babies are born every year at the maternity hospital in Siem Reap.
Taking the partnership to the next level
Cambodia's economy and living standards have improved over the past 30 years. The Kantha Bopha hospitals have built up a solid funding base during this time. Over the years, the SDC's contribution has fallen to less than 10 per cent of the hospitals' total budget.
"The SDC and the Kantha Bopha Foundation are proud of what we have achieved together," said Patricia Danzi. "We look back on a successful 30-year partnership and want to achieve even more in the next five years." Switzerland has agreed to grant the foundation an average of CHF 3.5 million per year until the funding is phased out in 2027. During this period, the SDC will work closely with the foundation to shore up the long-term financing of the Kantha Bopha hospitals. The SDC will also continue to support the Cambodian government, for example with setting up the social health insurance system that is currently in the pipeline.
"We are very grateful for the SDC's long-standing support," said Dr Philip Robinson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Kantha Bopha Foundation, adding that the support would make it possible in the coming years to ensure sustainable financing for the hospitals. "Thanks to the commitment of the Cambodian government and the foundation's many patrons in Switzerland, we will be able to safeguard the operation of our hospitals and the provision of proper medical care for children and mothers in Cambodia in the long term."
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