The Kantha Bopha Project: A step towards global impact
A Training and Conference Center at Siem Reap Angkor
The opening of a training and conference center on November 12, 2002 at Siem Reap Angkor will mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of the first Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital in Cambodia.
The Center was built according to blueprints done by Cambodian architect Ros Borath in the spirit of Angkor tradition&emdash;a complex surrounded by water and featuring wood, brick and sand as the three main building components. It houses two large auditoriums (one with a capacity of 650, the other 205) and four smaller rooms (designed to hold 60), as well as a medical library and exhibition areas. Two major contributors have provided the funds needed for the project.
Experience transfer
In the course of the last ten years, our three hospitals and maternity (designed to prevent mother-to-child AIDS and TB transmission) have enabled us to show that it is possible to make proper curative and preventive medicine available to poor communities, who face extreme challenges in their poor country, both at a low cost and with a high level of effectiveness.
At the initiative of the Swiss Directorate for Development and Cooperation (DDC), we would like to share our experience with others. For this reason, the DDC added another million to its funding package for construction of the center. It will serve as a venue for symposiums and postgraduate courses for young doctors, highlighting hospital facility design and management and practices that prevent corruption. A practical example, that of the Jayavarman VII Hospital next door, will be showcased during the courses. Pediatrics and perinatalogy will be key subjects taught in the purely medical field, with special emphasis on infectiology.
Combining hospital design, management and medical care for increased efficiency
Understanding and insight into hospital design and management, as well as a thorough understanding of the medical field, go hand in hand. Only by taking all of these areas into consideration can the undertaking be truly efficient. A proper appreciation for medicine and routine medical procedures is the only basis on which a reasonable design and management output can be achieved, responsive to the need for flexibility and sustainability. The professed goal of the center is to train doctors to the point that they can, on their own with local support staff&emdash;and without substantial and frequently needless administrative costs&emdash;take charge of designing and managing hospital facilities. Young doctors require training, motivation and incentive in this regard. They need to see that all of this is quite feasible, as we can amply demonstrate in our three hospitals.
Global impact
The courses will be given for young doctors from Cambodia, from developing countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, as well as from industrialized nations. In some specific fields, teaching staff from foreign universities, mostly in Switzerland, will be called upon.
The next step will be to convince financial institutions, governments and foundations to provide these capable doctors, graduates of the training programs (rather than organizations and institutions that spend 85 percent of their budget on administration), with the means required for hospital construction and management. The important thing is to see to it that these duly trained and specialized doctors are given full responsibility and decision-making authority.
A obviously humanitarian approach
In the final analysis, work in the health sector is by definition governed by a humanitarian approach, offering any individual, rich or poor, living in a wealthy country or a poor one, the human kindness to which he or she is entitled. For this reason, the Center must also have a cultural, artistic outreach. In this spirit, Gérard Depardieu will do a reading of texts from Saint Augustin and Jayavarman VII on November 24, 2002.
Kantha Bopha Hospital funding promotions
Other cultural events are designed to raise awareness with regard to the Kantha Bopha Hospitals and serve as a means of collecting funds for the operation thereof. I have been giving weekly concerts and conducting information meetings on Saturdays under the name BEATOCELLO in Siem Reap, in the Jayavarman VII hospital lobby (112 such presentations have already taken place), with encouraging results. The Center will also be rented out as a revenue-generating activity. We have already been contacted for three UNESCO conferences, as well as a European Union conference on malaria.
Library opening slated for September 1, 2002
When the Center is opened on November 12, 2002, it will host an international symposium on pediatrics and perinatalogy in poor countries, with a special focus on the problems of TB and AIDS. The library, an important feature of the Center available at all times to Cambodian doctors, is scheduled to become operational by September 1, 2002. It will also have a number of shelves devoted to Buddhism. It is vital for doctors to be able to find basic information on their religious and spiritual traditions in the wake of the destruction inflicted upon tradition and Buddhism during the Pol Pot regime and find out more about the humanitarian approach&emdash;fundamental to any medical act&emdash;in the framework of their spiritual traditions.
Dr. Beat Richner
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