Friends Without A Border opened a new pediatric hospital during a Grand Opening ceremony in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. Lao Friends Hospital for Children (LFHC) will be the first full-service pediatric hospital outside of the country’s capital and, when it opens, will provide free care to all children.
LFHC is a project by Friends Without A Border (Friends), a not-for-profit organization based in New York whose mission is to provide high-quality and compassionate health care to children in Southeast Asia. Friends’ first children’s hospital, Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), opened in 1999 in Cambodia and has since treated over 1.3 million children, trained hundreds of local doctors and nurses, and provided medical outreach and education to communities all over the country.
Friends’ founder Kenro Izu started the organization after witnessing the tragic death of young girl in a Cambodian health care facility. “The little girl was the same age as my daughter at the time. I just remember being so shocked something like that could happen. There she was, in a hospital with doctors and nurses nearby, and yet she did not receive treatment because the girl’s father couldn’t afford to pay two dollars for her care.”
After opening, word about AHC quickly spread. Today, AHC treats an average of 450 patients a day, is a nationally trusted pediatric teaching hospital, and a model in the region for sustainable high-quality care.
In Lao PDR, pediatric health care is an urgent concern. Children suffer from treatable illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria, as well as from injuries sustained by unexploded ordinances which are leftover from conflicts more than 30 years ago, yet still blanket many parts of the country.
The new hospital in Laos will adopt the same model of holistic care used at AHC, with a focus on treatment, education, and prevention. “When we opened our first hospital, we quickly realized the importance of addressing the education and prevention aspects. We wanted to help create a healthy community, not just provide Band-Aids.” Izu said.
LFHC’s Executive Director, Dr. Jonathan Spector, says, “We are building a hospital to where any of us would feel perfectly comfortable bringing our own children. We will deliver safe, high-quality care with respect and empathy for our patients and their families.”
Recently, Izu and Friends were recognized for their work by the World of Children Award. Considered the “Nobel Prize for Child Advocates”, the World of Children Award named Izu the Health Honoree.