SDC continuing to support the Kantha Bopha children's hospitals in Cambodia for another five years
Over the past 30 years, the Kantha Bopha children's hospitals founded by Dr Beat Richner have significantly improved healthcare for people in Cambodia. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has backed these efforts since the very beginning and will continue to support the hospitals until 2027. SDC Director General Patricia Danzi signed an agreement to this effect with the Kantha Bopha Foundation on 17 February 2023.
The Kantha Bopha hospitals have become a key part of the Cambodian health system. © Fundation Kantha Bopha
Deeply saddened by the death of Dr Richner, Federal Councillor Iganzio Cassis wrote the following tweet on the afternoon of 9 September 2018:
The news of Dr Richner's death not only shook the head of the FDFA but resonated throughout Switzerland, Cambodia and worldwide. Indeed, the accomplishments of the paediatrician from Zurich cannot be cannot be emphasised enough. In 1992, he 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 world-class children's hospitals supported by funding from the SDC. Today, these clinics care for more than 80% of all sick and injured children in the country – and give 2,500 Cambodians a job.
More than a million patients every year
"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 with the chairman of the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital Foundation, Dr Philip Robinson. "Over the past 30 years, they have significantly improved healthcare for the population, especially for children, and have 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 clinic in Siem Reap.
Child mortality rate significantly lower
Cambodia's economy and living standards have improved over the past 30 years and 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% of the hospitals' total budget.
"The SDC and the Kantha Bopha Foundation are proud of what we have achieved together," said Ms Danzi. In the last twelve [SCPAS1] years, for example, the neonatal mortality rate in Cambodia has fallen by 70% to 8 deaths per thousand live births; the under-five mortality rate has fallen by the same percentage, and the infant mortality rate has also fallen by 73% over the same period.
Taking the partnership to the next level
"Looking back on a successful 30-year partnership, we want to achieve even more in the next five years," continued Ms Danzi. Switzerland has agreed to grant the foundation an average of CHF 3.5 million per year until funding is phased out in 2027. During this period, the SDC will work closely with the foundation to shore up long-term financing for the Kantha Bopha hospitals.
"We are very grateful for the SDC's long-standing support," said Chairman of the Kantha Bopha Foundation Board of Trustees Dr Robinson, adding that the support would make it possible to ensure sustainable financing for the hospitals in the years to come. "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."
The SDC will also continue to support the Cambodian government, for example with setting up a social health insurance system that is currently in the pipeline.
Switzerland–Cambodia: a 60-year partnership
Switzerland and Cambodia have maintained diplomatic relations since 1963. Since 2016, the two countries have also engaged in regular political dialogue. The SDC, already operating in Cambodia since the mid-1990s, has stepped up its engagement since opening a cooperation office in Phnom Penh in 2012.