… According to the report, if we have no medicine to prolong the lives, by 2010 we would have 230,000 people more died of AIDS. This figure is equal to the numbers of people in Mundulkiri, Ratanakiri, Stoeungtreng and Sihanoukville together. If we were to compare this figure to those caused by war, we could say that death caused by AIDS is more than death caused by war. Before we were worried of death caused by mines. But putting the figures in order we now find that death caused by AIDS is the highest.
… First, in the statistics, the 230,000 people could not be cured completely but only prolong their lives for a while. The second in rank is the number of death caused by traffic accidents. Thanks to the efforts made by the Cambodian Government and people and the supports by the donor community, death from mines is approaching 0% rate. But as death and casualties caused by mines decreases, we are being disturbed by the two other incidents – AIDS and traffic accidents.
… I could recall what Doctor Tia Phalla had said in 1998. He said AIDS is the most dangerous disease. If we one were to step on mine, one would die or be crippled alone. But as far as AIDS is concerned, if one is HIV/AIDS positive, his wife and children would also be infected. Despite the fact that the rate of contagion has decreased, we have to work harder to bring this incidence down further. What I wish to seek an understanding is that this disease is man-made and not a natural one. Sometimes women are not the one who cause the incident, but their husbands who have been infected from different contacts. So we have to increase more education and awareness services about the spread of HIV/AIDS.
… I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and thanks to the National Authority against AIDS as well as the Ministry of Health for their efforts and consideration paid to achieve a wonderful work result. Because efforts made in raising the awareness on HIV/AIDS we could put a halt to the its spread. What I wish to say here today is that we should not think only of education services through the media like TV and Radio but many other means. We have to have a proper thought on what an advertised picture means to the people. Like before there was a poster with a man thinking of a beautiful lady and it was posted on the corner to the brothel… It is like telling bystanders going to that place. We have to make efforts to improve this situation. One other factor is the education service to help prevent discrimination against HIV/AIDS carriers. It is a human right issue and it should be open to participation by all. Despite the fact they are AIDS carriers, still they are human being. Our nation has to refrain from being split by those with HIV/AIDS and those without.
… In a recent UN Conference, Cambodia has been allocated with more than 16 million dollars for combating with AIDS and the Royal Government will add further to this amount of money aimed at offering these AIDS positive people access to the medicine. We have to take into consideration issue of distribution of medicine without disparity. We have adopted a plan that is no different to the one for tuberculosis. Take for instance, if we have 23,000 people died of AIDS, how many orphans would we have to take care of.
… We have now approached the Boat Racing festival. Those coming from the rural areas will flood in the city. The Ministry of Health has to take care of this matter as coming from the countryside they may lack experience in face of issue of brothels, etc. We have to increase our efforts in raising their awareness of HIV/AIDS so that they know how to protect themselves. Mines could be more obvious as there are signs telling about them but this kind of disease is quite spreading once it is infected. We have to look into the problem because our boat racers are no old but adult people. I am glad to see monks in the religious institution also participated in raising awareness on the disease…