SNUH helps Laos build its first national teaching hospital

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An image from the Center for Medical History and Culture at Seoul National University Hospital shows Seoul hospital staff receiving training from the University of Minnesota Medical Center in the 1950s. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) will help Laos establish its first national university hospital in the capital Vientiane by 2025 and will also help train medical staff, SNUH said Thursday.

The Export-Import Bank of Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund will provide the 100 billion won ($ 84 million) to build the University of Health Sciences hospital. SNUH will sign the agreement with Laos’ health ministry on January 7, according to SNUH.

The SNUH already signed a consultation agreement with the ministry and the University of Laos in November. He will manage the entire project for the next seven years, from construction planning to opening, and then provide training and consultation to medical services.

Once SNUH finalizes its construction plan, the government of Laos will hire a construction company for the project. A Korean company should be chosen, the fund being from Korea.

The new hospital will have 24 wards and 400 beds.

SNUH will invite 24 doctors and eight nurses from Laos for training in Korea until the hospital is ready to open. After it opens, Korean medical experts from six departments – internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, emergency medicine, intensive care and obstetrics and gynecology – will be dispatched to the new hospital in Laos, at the request of the University of Laos.


SNUH will receive 6.3 billion won from the 100 billion won project budget for its service.

“The demand for medical services is increasing in Laos, but the infrastructure to treat patients is lacking,” SNUH said. “This project will not only prevent patients from Laos from traveling abroad [for medical services] but also help the country to promote health professionals as the only hospital in Laos with links to a university. ”

This project is Korea’s attempt to return to the world community the aid it received after the Korean War of 1950-53. Through the Seoul National University Cooperative Project, often referred to as the Minnesota Project under the U.S. Administration for International Cooperation (ICA), formerly known as the Foreign Operations Administration (FOA), the Seoul National University received aid from the University of Minnesota beginning in 1954 for its teaching and research programs in its departments of medicine, agriculture, and engineering. Until 1962, more than 200 Korean professors visited the University of Minnesota for training and graduate degrees, including 77 medical professors and their assistants.

“If it hadn’t been for the Minnesota Project about 60 years ago, Korea might not have been able to establish its name in the medical field,” Kim Yon-su said, Chairman and CEO of SNUH. “Now is the time to give what Korea has experienced to other developing countries. ”

Before the SNUH pushed for the project, the Seoul National University College of Medicine was also running its own project to provide medical assistance in Laos. From 2010 to 2020, the school invited 82 medical staff from Laos to visit it as part of its “Lee Jong-wook-Seoul Project”, set up in honor of the former director general of the United Nations World Health Organization. The project also sent staff from SNUH to train 97 medical workers in Laos.

This is not the first time that SNUH has offered its services to a hospital abroad. It also manages Sheikh Khalifa Specialty Hospital (SKSH) in the United Arab Emirates, opened in 2015, and extended its management contract with SKSH in 2019 for an additional five years. The public non-profit hospital has 246 beds.

BY SHIN SUNG-SIK, LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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