Cambodia opened the doors of its first ever national cancer centre. The new facility was built with the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and will significantly increase the country’s capacity to fight a growing cancer burden.
The Techo Santepheap Centre, located at the Calmette Hospital in the capital Phnom Penh, is part of a national strategy to increase cancer care coverage. Until today, Cambodia only had one radiotherapy machine.
The Government of Cambodia dedicated € 36 million to ensure the centre’s completion, and the IAEA contributed around € 2 million in expertise related to its design, the commissioning of radiotherapy and nuclear medicine machines, as well as specialized staff training.
“I congratulate you on the opening of the new centre. This is one of the most important projects we have undertaken together since Cambodia rejoined the IAEA in 2009,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said. “The Government and people of Cambodia can take great pride in this achievement, knowing that many thousands of your fellow countrymen and women will benefit from modern cancer treatment and diagnostic services in the coming decades.”
Cambodia’s Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen, Health Minister Mam Bun Heng, a senior IAEA representative and other high level dignitaries attended the centre’s inauguration event in Phnom Penh.
According to the International Agency for the Research on Cancer, Cambodia faces 15,000 new cancer cases each year. Increased life expectancy and lifestyle changes, such as smoking and fatty diets, together with low screening rates, have made cancer one of the main causes of death in the country.
The new centre has one radiotherapy machine, with two more planned in coming years. Plans also include the installation of a PET-CT scanner and a cyclotron for the production of radiopharmaceuticals to improve medical imaging procedures. Early diagnosis is crucial to increase cancer survival rates. More than 70 per cent of cancer patients in Cambodia are referred to oncologists in the advanced stages of the disease, when treatment options are limited. In developed countries, this ratio is less than one-third.
“Techo Santepheap Centre is a great step towards enhancing medical care in Cambodia,” said Hun Sen. “This achievement has been possible thanks to continuous support from the IAEA in the provision of expertise, medical equipment and in human resources development.”
Cambodia plans to complete two additional cancer centres with radiotherapy and nuclear medicine facilities in the next five years in the north and west of the country.
Cancer is a growing global health and economic challenge, and governments are under increased pressure to meet rising demands for more affordable quality cancer services. The IAEA works to support low- and middle-income countries in responding to this challenge