Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, it is a great honor and pleasure for me to participate in the closing ceremony of the 24th Health Conference. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own self, I would like to congratulate and sincerely appreciate all the efforts and achievements made by the management and all the staff of the Ministry of Health in 2002 in pursuing the policies and reform programs of the Royal Government of Cambodia, especially in the development of heath sector aiming at reducing poverty among our people.
I believe that the 24th Health Conference, which has taken place for two days, provided necessary opportunities for discussion of measures which will be set out in order to promote the discussion on necessary policies towards the improvement of people’s healthcare and to ensure the effective and sustainable delivery of health services.
In fact, we all recognize that the poverty reduction cannot be achieved through the economic growth alone. However, the enhancement of development in social and cultural sector is also crucial to promote social equity, which will contribute to the elimination of all kind of gaps in the society, and capacity building and improving people’s opportunities to participate more actively in national economic development. Therefore, the development of health sector is a top priority for the Royal Government.
As you are already aware that the prolong war and political instability for several decades have resulted in poor services and weak public infrastructure in Cambodia. The genocidal regime of Pol Pot totally destroyed national health system. Just after the liberation day, 7 January 1979, we started gathering doctors and health staff who still survived from death, to reestablish the national health system. The period from 1980-1989 is the period of reconstruction and rehabilitation of the whole national health system, including physical and management infrastructure and human resource development. During that time, many health staff were trained, and the system of health services delivery was created as a full-fledged institution equipped with financial support, facilities and skilled staff at all levels of hospitals from national, provincial and district to commune levels. All national programs such as programs to fight against tuberculosis, malaria, diaries, polios and famine had been put in place through horizontal network of the entire health system.
I would like to take the opportunity of this “big gathering” to sincerely appreciate the many years utmost efforts made by all officials and staff of the Ministry of Health in fulfilling their duties for the cause of rehabilitation and development of the national health system. They have achieved very encouraging results in enhancing the Cambodian health sector. Taking also this opportunity, on behalf of the people and Royal Government of Cambodia, I sincerely thank all donor partners who have made valuable contributions in all forms including financial and technical assistance for the rehabilitation and the development of health sector.
As I have mentioned many times already, in order to empower the Cambodian society, to enable the people to get their education and enrich their cultural knowledge, reduce poverty and the incidence of infected diseases, – which can provide every individual with the opportunity to advance on his or her own ability; it requires healthy population, respect for the principle of democracy, social justice and the implementation of pro-poor policies promoting economic growth and sustainable development. Hence, good health services will positively contribute to the economic development as these services are the decisive factor that can increase production, investment and saving rate. Through this, people can attain good results in their education and fulfill their duties. In this sense, the Royal Government considers capacity buildings and people’s health as the most important priorities responding to the agenda of poverty reduction and the implementation of reform programs in all sectors. In this spirit, the Royal Government has been using all possibilities to attract the participation of non-government organizations and private sector in its efforts to provide health education, health care and disease prevention at the local areas, – with the objective of reducing the infant and maternal mortality, and preventing all types of infected disease including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
In fact, although we have achieved substantial and positive results in improving the welfare of people, we still have many more tasks to fulfill in order to reach the standards of health comparable to more developed countries in the region. Being well aware of this situation and needs, on behalf of the Royal Government, I officially launched in August 2002 the Health Sector Strategic Plan for 2003-2007 (HSP), which provides a common framework for all government partners in the development of health sector for the period of five years (2003-2007). The plan identifies the strategies for health services delivery, behavior changes, the enhancement of financing quality for health sector, human resource development and institutions, with the purpose of developing an effective health sector to enhance Cambodian people’s health, especially for the poor and vulnerable people and those who are living in the remote areas.
At the same time, in 2002 a health sector project for 2003-2007 was launched with the support of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, DFIT of the United Kingdom and the government counterpart fund. The health sector support project has created more opportunities for access to health services among poor people and people living in the remote areas, developing health infrastructure, construction of health buildings, and delivery of priority public health services through various support programs.
A number of key policies must be therefore set out for an effective and sustainable implementation of the Health Sector Strategic Plan, which includes:
- Improve the delivery of basic health services and appropriate professional health services with initial focus on behavioral change for the better the attitude of health providers and improved quality service;
- Enhance an effective use of human resources via better planning, management, distribution and improvement in the capacity of health personnel;
- Strengthen the implementation and development of legislations and regulations in the health sector to improve the protection of people’s health, specifically target women, children, elderly and disabled people and the people living in the rural areas;
- Advance the partnership between the Royal Government and the donor community, NGOs, private sector and civil society in the health sector;
- Enhance the effective use of health information and data for planning, implementation and monitoring.
In the process of implementing the above mentioned policies, the RGC has worked hard by all efforts to steadily increase the national budget both in public investment and current spending for health sector. During the last five years of this government, the current expenditure for health sector has increased by almost fivefold from CR 43,000 million in 1998 to CR 172,000 million in 2002. In the Budget 2003, the allocation for the Ministry of Health is about CR 216,000 million, a further increase of about 26% over the Budget 2002.
I believe that in this 24th Conference of the MOH, we have actively discussed and provided significant useful and valuable comments and recommendations for the development of health sector in Cambodia. It is especially an ample opportunity for us to share experiences and strengthen the friendship and solidarity among our physicians, pharmacists and all the health officials, whose efforts are devoted for the humanitarian cause and the well being of all our people.
Thus I think there is no need to talk in the details again the topics, which were discussed. However, I wish to indicate once again that practicing the medicine is the most respectful profession of humanity nature in the world. But, then the respect and the humanity nature all depend on the practitioners, whether they adhere to their code of conducts or not. The physicians, pharmacists and the health service personnel without professional ethics and conscience would not get the respect at all. Thus the adherence to the strict physician professional ethics, the delivery of health services, and the acts of saving people lives all are the dignified, highly moral and also humanitarian activities.
In this sense, I am strongly convinced that via this 24th Health Conference the professionalism and the code of conducts of the physicians, pharmacists and all the health staff will be improved, – in the context of both morality and humanity, the effectivity and quality of their service. It is for the benefits of all Cambodian people, sustainable development and poverty reduction in Cambodia.
In closing, to take this opportunity I urge all Cambodia’s international partners and the NGOs to continue their cooperation with and support of the MOH in improving the health sector and enhancing the health status of our people. May I extend my appreciation to the MOH, the government ministries/institutions, civil society, key international organization and the NGOs for their proactive cooperation in the development of the Cambodian health sector. Finally, let me end by extending to you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist wishes. May I declare the closing of the MOH’s annual meeting.