The Ministry of Health and the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital have decided to extend the mourning period for hospital founder Dr Beat Richner by three months, noting that many supporters of the beloved doctor want to pay their respects.
Dr Richner died at age 71 in Zurich on September 9 due to a serious illness and mourning ceremonies began soon after at the ministry and hospitals for the public to pay their respects.
The ceremonies were set to end after seven days, but have now been extended by three months.
Heng Sothy, deputy director of the Kantha Bopha Hospital, said the extension is due to the fact that so many supporters of Dr Richner are still coming to mourn his death.
“The death of Dr Beat Richner has affected so many people,” he said. “Due to his dedication to saving the lives of Cambodian children, many want to pay their respect and we must extend the period by 100 days.”
Last week, Finance Minister Aun Pornmoniroth, who is also the chair of the Cambodian Kantha Bopha Foundation, promised to keep the fund alive while he paid his respect.
He said that the government will continue to grow the fund in order to ensure the sustainability of Kantha Bopha’s operations.
“I think that his soul will be at peace knowing this,” he said. “The government will take care of it and find funds for the hospitals’ stability to continue his dream.”
“I appeal to all citizens to continue to trust the government and the hospitals knowing that the high standard of service will continue,” he added.
Dr Richner set up the first Kantha Bopha hospital in 1992 and oversaw all others until 2017, when he stepped down due to a serious medical condition.
The first Kantha Bopha hospital was inaugurated in Phnom Penh by former King Norodom Sihanouk in September 1992. The hospital was named after King Sihanouk’s daughter, who died from leukaemia.
In November last year, the Kantha Bopha hospitals celebrated their 25th anniversary, announcing they had treated almost 17 million children and pregnant women at a cost of $632 million since 1992. Services are free of charge.