Venerable Monks; Your Royal Highnesses;
Mr. Rodny Hartfield, Chief of UNICEF to Cambodia;
Excellencies Ambassadors and International Representatives to Cambodia;
Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, Distinguished National and International Guests;
My Compatriots and Students:
Today, I have a great honor and pleasure to participate in the celebration of “National Day to Eliminate the Lack of Iodine in Nutrition in Cambodia”, a one-year anniversary in the implementation of the sub-decree on the management of Iodine salt production, which was adopted by the Royal Government on 20th October 2003.
On behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and to sincerely admire the efforts of the National Council of Nutrition; Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee; Provincial-Capital Nutrition Facilitation Committee; Eliminating the Lack of Iodine Nutrition Sub-Committee; other national and international organizations; particularly UNICEF, WHO, Helen Keller International Organization (HKI), GTZ Organization; and other donor countries, that have actively coordinated with each other in the implementation of the program to eliminate the lack of Iodine nutrition in the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia. At the same time, I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thank to the National Council of Nutrition and UNICEF for both material and spiritual supports in the preparation of this national day to eliminate the lack of Iodine nutrition.
In deed, the celebration of the National Day to Eliminate the Lack of Iodine Nutrition is greatly beneficial because it is an evidence to show the will of the Royal Government in achieving the objective to eliminate the lack of iodine nutrition, which was set in the objectives of the Nutrition Investment Plan 2003-2007 held in Beijing October 2003 and Millennium Development Goals, in which the head of states and governments of 189 countries adopted at the World Summit in September 2000.
As H.E. Chay Thon, senior minister and minister of planning and Mr. Rodney Hartfield, Chief of UNICEF to Cambodia, clearly stated that the lack of iodine nutrition is a challenging issue for the efforts of the Royal Government in poverty reduction and improvement of the well-being and living standard of every Cambodian citizen. According to the result of the 2000 population and health survey in Cambodia, only 14% of households used iodine salt, the lowest rate compared to neighboring countries, namely Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. In this sense, the government clearly understands and considers the lack of iodine nutrition as a major obstacle to human resource development and a negative effect on economic development. Moreover, it can also be a direct negative impact on well-being and every day living of the people. Based on this, the government issued and implemented a strategy and other important policy to build a Cambodian society with peace, stability and social order; speedy development; strong inter-link cells; highly educated people and strong culture; no poverty, no illiteracy, no disease, no terror, no conflict and no violence.
Moreover, to ensure the successful implementation of this strategy, the Royal Government created a mechanism which is the National Council of Nutrition with me as a honorary head and H.E. Chay Thon as a head as well as creating a number of other inter-ministerial working groups such as Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee of National Council of Nutrition, Provincial-Capital Nutrition Facilitation Committee and Eliminating the Lack of Iodine Nutrition Sub-Committee to directly implement this strategy. Through the mechanism and supports from UNICEF, WTO and HellenKeller International Organization, the preparation and implementation of the program to introduce universal iodine into salt since 1997 have achieved a number of successes.
The successes include:
1. To set the Nutrition Investment Plan as a part of Public Investment Program. The Nutrition Investment Plan in Cambodia was amended from 10 to 5 years, 2003-2007 and to include all intervention expenditures related to nutrition work into the national budget.
2. To amend the declaration on the production management and utilization of iodine salt into a sub-degree on the production management of iodine salt, which was adopted by the Royal Government on 20th October 2003.
3. To broadcast the sub-degree on production management of iodine salt in provinces and cities, as bases for salt production, that have low ratio of families using iodine salt.
4. To promote the participation from salt producers by setting up as a community for the benefit of iodine salt production management.
5. To provide 10 big and medium size machines to mix iodine with salt and iodine powder to salt producers in Kompot and Kep.
6. To train and promote education to officials in different provinces and public places about the consequences from lacking of iodine nutrition and benefits about the utilization of iodine salt.
7. To cooperate with the Ministry of Commerce to prepare inter-ministerial declaration about appropriate measures to manage the production of iodine salt.
8. To facilitate with Nutrition Work Facilitation Committee for preparation on the implementation of sub-degree on management of iodine salt production.
Even the National Council of Nutrition, Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee, Provincial-Capital Nutrition Facilitation Committee and Eliminating the Lack of Iodine Nutrition Sub-Committee with the supports from UNICEF, WHO, HellenKeller International Organization have tried their bests to eliminate the lack of iodine nutrition, the result from these efforts is still limited due to a number of complicated factors such as stages of salt production, salt production and people thinking.
The remaining problems that have been raised above clearly show that we still have a lot of works to do and require further joint efforts. In deed, the Royal Government recognizes that we are not able to solve the problem of lacking this iodine nutrition within a day or a month. Moreover, to eliminate the lack of nutrition is an important angle towards the elimination of the lack of nutrition and food safety, which is an important policy for the government and a topic with general criteria. Therefore, to achieve this, we should not allow the consequences from lacking of iodine nutrition to continue in Cambodia.
At the same time, past experiences show that a simple solution with minimum spending, which is applicable to ensure enough iodine nutrition in daily food ration, is to mix iodine with salt. Therefore, on behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to share a number of contributions in order to achieve the goals in the program to eliminating the lack of iodine in the Kingdom of Cambodia through a number of following important points:
1. To enhance the cooperation and relation with national and international organizations to attract supports and active participation to eliminate the lack of iodine nutrition, especially the continuation to promote the sub-degree on the production management of iodine salt, education about the importance of the iodine salt utilization and impacts of the lack of iodine salt to the commune councils and all the people.
2. To increase the cooperation and relation with national and international organizations for support of the sample of salt field plan and technique of high quality and salt production, especially experiences about salt production from Sri Lanka with the average yield of 100 tons per hectare.
3. To promote the broadcasting to the people through radio, TV and advertising boards and to incorporate the importance of iodine salt utilization and the impacts from the lack of iodine nutrition into different programs.
4. Nutrition Work Facilitation Committee in Kompot and Kep has to promote cooperation with related organizations and producers to increase the salt production to 65,000 ton per year and to enlarge marketing and distribution channel for the iodine salt in Cambodia.
5. Nutrition Work Committee along the border has to promote the cooperation to stop the circulation of salt without iodine from crossing the border.
6. I would like to appeal to all salt producers to promote quality and salt production by mixing iodine into salt according to the standard set before distribution. Every salt retailer should order and sell only iodine salt to people and all places with nutrition preparation. Making food and desert should only use iodine salt all the times.
Once again, on behalf of National Council of Nutrition and myself, I would like to express my profound thank to UNICEF for all kinds of supports in setting up this celebration and to appeal to donor countries, national and international organizations to continue both material and spiritual supports to the National Council of Nutrition as well as the Royal Government to enhance the nutrition quality, especially the elimination of the lack of iodine nutrition.
I strongly hope and proudly believe that excellencies, ladies and gentlemen will continue to corporate closely with the National Council of Nutrition in eliminating the lack of iodine nutrition and enhancing the living standard of the people all over the country, which is a part of the government’s rectangular strategy.
At the end, I would like to dedicate this day as a day with no more lack of iodine nutrition in order to promote the nutrition condition in the Kingdom of Cambodia and to wish you all, Samdech, Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist blessing. I wish the celebration of the national day to eliminate the lack of iodine nutrition to be successful and effective.