Saving the Lives of the Nation’s Hope

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H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Cambodian Minister of Tourism joins senior leaders of Manulife in presenting cheque to Angkor Hospital for Children during the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon. Supplied

Even with the uprising and war Cambodia faced four decades ago, it is undeniable how much it has grown and advanced – albeit slowly. This kingdom has started to flourish in so many aspects – economy, education and healthcare. To add up to this continuous progress, Japanese photographer Kenro Izu went beyond his profession and set up a pediatric healthcare center that is now one of the leading children’s hospitals in Cambodia – Angkor Hospital for Children.

Say Tola recently talked with AHC’s communication manager Sarah Cuiksa about how the hospital has contributed to the country’s healthcare system over its 20-year existence.

Good Times2: How did Angkor Hospital for Children come about?

Sarah Cuiksa: After a visit to Siem Reap in 1993, Japanese photographer Kenro Izu was deeply touched by the resiliency of Cambodia’s children. He founded the non-profit pediatric healthcare organisation on the principle of providing healthcare for Cambodian children run by Cambodians in 1999.

Twenty years on, AHC has delivered compassionate, holistic care to children from across the country. Today, AHC has established itself as a center of excellence through provision of high-quality, specialist services, some of which are not found elsewhere in Cambodia; a commitment to education and capacity-building that extends beyond its walls; and its embodiment of exemplary governance and accountability. Through data, research, and contributions to policy-setting, AHC is making a wider impact by strengthening healthcare systems in partnership with the Ministry of Health and influencing child health locally, regionally and internationally.

Good Times2: What are the types of diseases the hospital can provide treatment for?

Sarah Cuiksa: As a leader in pediatric healthcare in Cambodia, AHC is equipped to treat a wide range of conditions, offering comprehensive primary care, specialty services, holistic support services and chronic medical care. AHC is paving the way in specialty treatments, like pediatric and neonatal intensive care, oncology and chronic conditions, and in holistic support, through services like social work, nutrition and physiotherapy.

With any condition, AHC aims to treat the whole child, which contributes to better health outcomes that allow a child to not only survive, but thrive.

It is the objective of AHC to help every child in Cambodia live a healthy life. Photo: Supplied

Good Times2: As the hospital treats children for free, how does the hospital sustain its operations?

Sarah Cuiksa: AHC is funded mainly through generous donations from within Cambodia and from around the world – from companies, foundations and individuals. But also, the organisation works hard to use all of its resources, including the in-kind support received from the Cambodian government, in the most impactful and efficient way possible.

Good Times2: How many patients do you accept in a day? What kinds of diseases do children commonly suffer from?

Sarah Cuiksa: On average, AHC treats 400 to 500 children each day. The most common ailments treated by AHC’s staff include respiratory issues and infections, neurological disorders, chronic illnesses, viral diseases like dengue fever, and heart and kidney issues. Dog, cat and monkey bites are also common, as is malnutrition, which is often seen and diagnosed secondarily.

Good Times2: Manulife has been donating funds to AHC since 2015. How has the funding helped?

Sarah Cuiksa: Manulife has partnered with AHC to make a difference in the health of Cambodia’s children. Since 2015, through the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon, its employees globally contributed and fundraised to support heart health through AHC’s holistic cardiac care that saves lives. The fundraising has been strongly supported by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.

Across AHC’s outpatient and inpatient departments, and its intensive care unit (ICU) and surgical ward, AHC sees over 1,200 cardiology cases a year – all of which are made possible by Manulife’s generous support.

For instance, Manulife supports AHC’s treatment of cardiology issues like congenital heart disease, one of the most common birth defects in babies. While it can affect almost one in every 100 newborns, 80% won’t need surgery – but they do need holistic medical treatment and proper follow-up. AHC is one of the few facilities that provide such holistic care. Through nutrition programmes that ensure children are getting the proper amount of calories to gain weight and grow into healthy individuals and to scheduling follow-up appointments that monitor a child’s condition, AHC takes a 360-degree view of a child’s heart health through holistic care and through partnership from Manulife.

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