The founder of the Kantha Bopha Foundation and children’s hospital, pediatrician Dr. Beat Richner, died of a serious illness on Sunday, his family said. He was 71.
The Swiss doctor was a well-known figure in Cambodia having founded Kantha Bopha in 1992. After many years in Cambodia Richner left last year to spend time with his family as his illness progressed.
Richner arrived in Cambodia on the invitation of King Norodom Sihanouk. He helped build some five pediatric clinics in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh over the following 25 years
He was also an accomplished cellist.
After completing his medical degree in 1973, he worked briefly at a hospital in his native Zurich before moving to Cambodia with the Swiss Red Cross towards the end of the Lon Nol regime’s rule, in 1974 and 1975, until shortly before the Khmer Rouge takeover.
Phay Siphan, a government spokesman, said Richner was a “hero in the health sector” and his loss was a “big regret”.
Dr. Ky Santy of Kantha Bopha said that Dr. Richner’s assistant had assured staff that the hospital was in good financial health and would continue to operate.