PHNOM PENH, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Charismatic Swiss doctor and cellist Beat Richner, the founder of the Kantha Bopha Hospitals in Cambodia, died of a serious illness on Sunday at the age 71, his foundation said.
"The foundation board has the painful duty to inform you that the founder and benefactor Dr. Beat Richner has passed away after a serious illness," the Zurich-based Kantha Bopha Foundation said in a statement.
Due to his illness, Richner had to pass over the responsibility for management of the hospitals to his deputy and long-standing companion Peter Studer, vice president of the foundation board in March 2017, the statement said.
Founded in 1992, the Kantha Bopha Hospitals currently consist of five branches, including four in the capital of Phnom Penh and one in northwestern Siem Reap province.
The hospitals employed 2,345 staff and provided medical checkups and treatment to between 2,500 and 3,000 patients a day, and the annual budget of the running costs was around 43 million U.S. dollars.
The statement said the hospitals provide free medical care to around 85 percent of the country's pediatric patients, and the main sources of funds for operating the hospitals come from Swiss donors and contributions by the governments of Switzerland and Cambodia.
In April 2018, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen founded the trust "Kantha Bopha Kampuchea" and he himself holds the role on the honorary board, the statement said, adding that the objective of the trust is to generate even more local donations for the Kantha Bopha hospitals from within Cambodia.