14th July 2012
The Cambodia Daily reports that Dr Beat Richner is disputing the results of a briefing at the Ministry of Health on Friday by a pubic health specialist from the WHO, Dr Numa Asgari. Asgari said that 79% of the children that died from the hand, food and mouth disease caused by enterovirus 71 had been treated with steroids at the Kantha Bopha hospitals.
Children who died at the Kantha Bopha hospitals were suffering from encephalitis and all contracted severe pneumonia several hours before they died.
“Steroid use has been shown to worsen the condition of patients with EV-71,” according to the statement.
Dr Richner, meanwhile, has claimed that these deaths were caused by counterfeit medicines and faulty infections from private clinics prior to being admitted to his hospitals – a tacit criticism of the local health system. He also insisted that encephalitis is treated with steroids “all over the world”
Moreover, Richner is insisting the encephalitis and following respiratory collapse represents a new development – an evolution of the disease we that may well be seeing here for the first time in the disease’s history.
Richner is an iconic figure here in Cambodia, having devoted a significant part of his life to the hospitals that he has established in the Kingdom. He has also been a tireless campaigner and fund-raiser. He didn’t loose the opportunity, early in the drama for example, to mention that his hospitals risked running out of cash.
This latest development, which looks suspiciously like point scoring, is a worrying development.