The Ministry of Health yesterday began a three-day mourning period for Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals founder Dr Beat Richner, who died at age 71 in Zurich on Sunday.
Various government officials also expressed their condolences to the family of Dr Richner, who saved the lives of thousands of Cambodian children through his hospital work.
In a letter to president of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he is deeply grieved over the death of Dr Richner, who had contributed so much to the improvement of the public health system in Cambodia.
“In this moment of mourning, I would like to extend, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, my sincerest condolences, through your good self, to his grieving family for the loss of their loved one,” Mr Hun Sen said. “The late Dr Richner’s noble spirit and achievement will remain in our hearts, and we shall pursue his aspirations to help Cambodian children in the years to come, we pray that his soul rests in peace.”
Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday also sent a condolence message to Dr Richner’s family.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences and that of all Khmer people and thank Dr Beat Ricner for all his good work in helping the children of Cambodia,” he said.
Seri Roath, 33, a Phnom Penh resident, said outside the mourning ceremony at the Health Ministry that Cambodian people loved Dr Richner for his efforts to fund a hospital offering free treatment to children.
“I brought my son to the hospital twice for treatment and did not have to pay anything,” she said. “He helped a lot of poor people and we mourn him. May his soul rest in peace.”
Dr Richner set up the first hospital in 1992 and oversaw all the hospitals until 2017, when he stepped down due to a serious medical condition.
“Dr Richner leaves behind an exceptional legacy deserving admiration,” a statement from the Kantha Bopha Foundation said on Sunday. “Afflicted by a serious illness, he left Cambodia in 2017 and returned to his native Zurich where he spent the last months of his life.”
The Kantha Bopha Foundation said on Sunday it will hold a series of ceremonies for the public to mourn Dr Richner at all its hospital branches in the country, which also began yesterday alongside the ministry ceremony.