His Excellency Jean François Desmazieres, French Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests,
Dear Professors, Nurses, Doctors, and Health Officials!
Today, it is my great pleasure and honor to join the opening of the International Conference on Cambodia Health 2008,organized by the University of Health Science in collaboration with the All Fields Cambodian Doctors Association and with cooperation from France, and under the support of French Embassy and the Ministry of Health. On behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to highly compliment this conference which is now reached its 9th Anniversary. I would like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Professors, doctors, pharma-doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and, especially all the delegates from countries in the region and the world.
I would like to thank the management, professors, personnel of the University of Health Science for organizing this conference to share and exchange experiences and new knowledge which are being practiced throughout the region and in the world. This kind of forum is very important to make the health service delivery more efficient in terms of cost cutting, time saving and wider coverage.
Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and Cambodian people, I would also like to convey my profound gratitude to the government and the people of France through H.E. Jean François Desmazieres, the French Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia for providing financial, technical and spiritual support to smoothly conduct this conference.
The Royal Government of Cambodia considers people’s health as the core of human capital development to achieve sustainable social and economic development. The focus of raising the people’s welfare is particularly given to the poor, women and children in order to insure equity, efficiency and sustainability of health service delivery. To attain this objective, the government has been allocating more budget to the health sector aiming at expanding the number of referral hospitals, health centers, and health posts along with the expansion of the treatment and protection program for infectious diseases, children and maternal supportive health program, and treatment fee weaving for the poor through the establishment ofHealth Equity Fund.
Furthermore, the Royal Government promotes human resource development in the health sector at all levels, especially the training of mid-wives and nurses as well as promoting professional ethics of health officials in delivering health services to the people. At the same time, the Royal Government has tightened the supervision of private health services in terms of health check, treatment and selling of medicines in conformity with the principle of laws and through strengthened cooperation between the state institution and development partners, private sector, nongovernmental organization and the kind to revamp public health service.
As result, the child mortality rate per 1000 births has dropped from 95 to 66 between 2000 and 2005. Mortality rate of children under five also witnessed remarkable drop. Maternal mortality rate decreased from 472 to 437 per 100.000 deliveries. In 2005, over 655 mothers received health care services at least once before giving birth. In parallel, HIV transmission has gradually decreased.
At the same time, it is worth noting that despite numerous achievements made these indicators are still relatively high compared to those in the region, this reflects the fact that the Royal Government must keep making more efforts to raise the welfare of all Cambodian people.
Therefore, the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II of the Royal Government was prepared to advance various existing achievements and to achieve more future outcomes. The Royal Government is committed to implement the Strategic Plan of the Health Sector, which has been set out so far in an attempt to reduce the mortality rate of the mother and children and to improve other important health indicators through strengthening the quality and expanding the health services, especially the reproductive health services of the mother, infant and children.
In this spirit, the Royal Government will continue to implement various necessary measures in order to make sure that the health services truly respond to and move closer to the people through implementing the decentralization on functional service delivery and the decentralization of management power to the sub-national level such as at the National Hospitals, Referral Hospitals and the Health Centers, and by promoting investment on physical infrastructures, medical facilities and technology with the enhancement of other health supporting services and researches in order to set up policies on planning, monitoring of achievements, and evaluating the good governance effort throughout the entire health sector by implementing the “Sector Wide Approach”, improving the ownerships and strengthening the partnership with the international communities.
In order to draw the attention on the discussion of health related issues in 2008, I would like to raise some of the issues that need more discussion as well as a number of challenges and worries resulting from the implementation and need to be discussed in order to seek the solutions and recommendations to improve the health services.
1. Although the health sector has proudly accomplished a great deal of results we should never forget about the gap between the urban and rural areas, and between the rich and the poor within the health services, which are still highly limited, especially in the remote areas.
The health of the infant and children and the fight against the epidemic diseases are still the priorities. Moreover, we have to jointly pay attention to the newly practical issues such as traffic accidents, bird flu and the outbreak of chronic diseases while the people have sufficient but unstable supply of food to eat. There should be a focus on the stable supply of food rather than the medical treatment of diseases.
2. Since the health service providers in the hospitals are those who are working directly with the people, please be patient, and always stick to your professional ethics, in particular, there should be no discrimination between the rich and the poor or any other tendency.
I have observed that many people have lost their confidence on our Cambodian medical doctors and nurses due to the breach of some medical professional ethics. For instance there are doctors who intentionally prolonged the disease for more fees and those who ignore to treat patients timely if they have no money and those doctors who performed unnecessary operations for money and those who inflate the medical fees…etc.
The loss of confidence on the domestic medical doctors with more and more people traveling abroad for medical treatment is not a good sign for the development of the heath sector.
3. Although the private health sector is the critical partner of the public health sector, and while promoting the private sector investment, the public sector is obliged to rightly prepare and implement laws and other related legal frameworks in order to ensure the safety of the consumers. For the management of this sector, there are still many issues that need to be solved. Especially, I would like to absolutely prohibit those powerful officials from standing behind illegal clinics and private pharmacies, which make it hard for the authority in charged.
What is regretful is the creation of the private ambulances with no specialized doctors, insufficient facilities, competing to transport the patients or the injured from traffic accidents like taxies competing for passengers. There might be some bad officials behind this kind of scandal, resulting in the death of patients before reaching the public hospital.
4. Gaining public confidence, providing good services and by abiding to the professional code of ethics in treatment can save not only time and money for our people, but also to make those services for export. For example, Cambodia receives approximately 2 million tourists annually and these people also need reliable health services. Therefore, we have to strengthen our health services in order to provide additional services to tourists as well as increasing their expenses in Cambodia.
I strongly believe that this 5 days important conference will provide newly updated experiences and knowledge, to be used as capital to improve the implementation of health sector in Cambodia. I would like to show my profound appreciation to the Ministry of Health, related ministries/institutions, national and international organizations, the private sector, and civil society that have made all efforts to improve the health sector and people’s welfares which is a real and substantial contribution to poverty reduction in Cambodia.
Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and on my behalf, I would like to highly value all the achievement attained by the Ministry of Health, and these achievements have contributed significantly to our efforts in poverty reduction as well as national development in all sectors. Along with this, the achievements in health sector stem from mental and physical efforts of the management of the Ministry, professors, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, medical staff, civil servants of the Ministry of health and the University of Medical Science. Moreover, these achievements also come from mental and financial assistances provided by Francophonie, the Government of France, various friend countries, WHO, and other national and international organizations.
I would like to once again show my appreciation to the Government of France that has always provided all kinds of aids and supports that have been utilized effectively. Through the delegate of professors who are present in this conference, I would like to also thank people and government of other countries for the support and aids provided to Cambodia.
Finally, I wish this international conference success and fruitful outcomes. I also wish Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, professors, doctors, distinguished national and international guests 4 gems of Buddhist Blessing. May I now declare the opening of the International Conference on “Health in Cambodia 2008”.