Japan Heart Cambodia
MISSION & HISTORY
Since its inception in 2004, with the mission “to deliver healthcare to medically-isolated areas,” Japan Heart has been committed to fulfilling its vision: Help realize a society where each and every person has equal access to medical care, with no discrimination by nationality/locality, race, politics, religion, or circumstance, and ultimately appreciates their lives on earth.
Through our experiences with all the patients and the people they are associated with, we have started thinking that we may need to redefine what “Medical Care” means.
Medical Care is not just treatments, but something that “enhances the quality of life of the people involved.” If so, we need to identify and keep up with the changes of the times and the needs of the individuals. And, we take on these activities wisely and with flexibility.
We hope to usher in a society where each and every person has equal access to medical care, with no discrimination by nationality/locality, race, politics, religion, or circumstance, and ultimately appreciates their lives. This is an ongoing project where everybody --- from our front-line contributors with various professions, to those who support our activities ---- engages and tackles social challenges.
When Japan Heart arrived in Cambodia in 2008 the effects of the notorious Pol Pot regime were still heavily felt by the medical field in Cambodia. It is believed that only about 40 doctors survived the Khmer Rouge. To rectify this problem the subsequent government hastily issued medical degrees to produce as many doctors as possible and there is a mistrust of the medical field that persists to this day.
We began by renting a small space in a rural hospital and set out by performing two operations per month. However, to achieve our goals of supporting emergency patients, offering better support for our regular patients and developing local doctors we decided to construct our own hospital.
In Cambodia, the number of patients with pediatric cancer is thought to be around 600 cases per year, of which only 200 receive medical treatment. As a result, the survival rate of such cancers is less than 20%, whereas in developed countries the rate is more than 80%.
One of the barriers to treatment for pediatric cancer patients is that their families simply cannot afford to pay for the care. Furthermore, even if they are able to go to the hospital, their treatment is often ineffective due to a lack of knowledge or skill related to pediatric cancers. As a result, mistaken diagnoses, delays, and a general difficulty of treatment is common. By providing free surgeries and treatment while spreading awareness of these diseases and training skilled local medical staff, we hope to eradicate this problem in the years to come.
Before Japan Heart began treating pediatric cancers, there were no medical institutions that could treat pediatric cancers except for leukemia. Since 2018 we have expanded our pediatric ward to include a facility for the treatment of pediatric cancer and we especially welcome patients with solid types of cancers to be treated. To enhance our ability to treat pediatric cancer and to train Cambodian doctors for the future, we regularly invite highly-skilled teams of pediatric surgeons and other specialists from Japan.