Your Venerable Monks,
Your Excellency, the Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Guests,
Our Beloved Citizen, Teachers and Students,
Today, I am greatly delighted and honored to join your venerable monks, all your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests, beloved citizen and all students in this ground breaking ceremony for the construction of theMongkol Borei Referral Hospital. Indeed, this ground breaking ceremony is a series of grant provided by the Government of Japan and its People in developing health sector in Cambodia. For instance, I have just attended the inauguration ceremony of the new building at the Healthcare Technical School on the 28th March, 2006 which was also a donation from theGovernment of Japan and its Citizens.
Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and its People, I would like to deeply appreciate theGovernment of Japan and its Citizens who have provided the continuous assistance which proved to be essential and significant in contributing to the development of the economy, society and infrastructure in Cambodia. This outstanding contribution has indeed responded timely to the crucial demand of the Royal Government of Cambodia and its Citizens for the improvement of the people’s wellbeing and alleviating poverty. Without doubt, development and human’s health can not be separated from one another, and health centers are the only places where people’s health can be upgraded; in particular, this Mongkol Borei Referral Hospital has the most important role in improving the people’s health in this Bantey Meanchey province.
Please allow me to introduce a little bit of history of this Mongkol Borei Referral Hospital which contains the evidence and deep meaning of the relationship and friendship between Cambodia and Japan. Recalling 41 years back when this hospital was built in 1964 under the profound leadership of Preah Moha Vireak Ksat, King Norodom Sihanouk with the same support provided by the Government of Japan and its People. It was the first aid provided by the Government of Japan in health sector, which then turned the hospital into a symbol of close relationship between Cambodian and Japan, and the relationship itself has been growing strongly day by day since then until the present time.
I still remember that during that period of time, the Mongkol Borei Friendship Health Center of Cambodia-Japan was very well known across the entire Kingdom of Cambodia because it has close cooperation with six skillful doctors and the Japanese assistants who have been working tirelessly in improving health and saving lives of many Cambodian citizens. Before the event of 18th March, 1970, the Government of Japan had withdrawn its staffs back to Japan. After the 17th of April, 1975 under the Pol Pot’s genocide regime, every development outcomes, in particular the Mongkol Borei Friendship Health Center of Cambodia-Japan have been destroyed, and the health and life care of the people back then have no significance for leaders of those period.
The collapse of the genocide regime after the victorious day of 7th January, 1979 allowed the Friendship Health Center of Cambodia-Japan to once again operate and provide health service for the people under the name of Mongkol Borei Provincial Hospital in Battambang province. After the establishment of the administrative state land in Bantey Meanchey province on 7th January, 1988, the Mongkol Borei Provincial Hospital has been detached from Battambang’s provincial health center to rightfully become the Bantey Meanchey Provincial Hospital, which was capable of providing the health service for up to 700,000 people across the entire province. Indeed, until recently, despite the fact that this hospital is a referral hospital with the duty to covers only one operative district; in practice, I have observed that this hospital is currently also serving the people from the nearby operative districts in Bantey Meanchey province or from other provinces.
It is true that the above-short history does not only provide reflection of development of this health center, but highlight the important role of this center in providing health service to the people, which is the main objective of the Royal Government in its development path that have faced a lot of challenges. It reaffirms that the reconstruction of this health center will instill more hope to Cambodian people in accessing a higher quality of health services, important to note that health indicators in Cambodia have been gradually moving in positive direction.
It is obvious that building and facilities that are going to be equipped in this historical center of the Cambodia-Japan friendship will contribute to the development of health sector in Cambodia in general and Bantey Meanchey province in particular.
The building of Mongkol Borei Referral Hospital is now more than 40 years old and become weak while obligation to provide health service to the people has been increasing and this is the main constraints in providing a quality health services to Cambodian people. In response to addressing the constraint, H.E. Gotaro Ogawa, former Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia visited the Mongkol Borei Referral Hospital, formerly called Khmer-Japan Friendship Health Center, in 2001. At that time, Japanese Government decided to dispatch a joint team including representative from Japanese Embassy, JICA and Japan’s Ministry of Health to assess the construction project and the Japanese Government, in August 2005, decided to provide a grant of 683 million Yens (6 million US dollars) for construction and reorganizing the hospital.
It is clear that the project is a success and has renewed a historical cooperation dated back 41 years ago. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my enthusiasm and compliment to the efforts made by management, officials and stuff of Ministry of Health and relevant institutions, which worked actively, involving in project planning with Japanese technical consultant and to derive to this successes.
Also, to make all future cooperation projects and in particular this construction project a success as well as to enhance the maintenance and management which should not be overlooked, I would like to make the following suggestions:
1. Ministry of Health, relevant institutions, local authority shall ensure an appropriate counterpart contribution, especially guarantee availability of land for construction and develop and allocate staff and budget to operate the center after completion of construction. I would like to emphasize that function of hospital after it has been build is the most important and Ministry of Health must ensure the operation with strictness and high responsibility. Adhering ethics of hospital and medical staffs are valuable to make hospital to be a place that provides a genuine health service to the people.
2. Examine feasibility to organize an internship in this hospital, especially to train in small surgery at local level to the students, nurses and medical staff from Battambang Medical School which aims to provide health service coverage in north-west region of the country. If we can make it possible, they can enrich their knowledge to serve people.
3. At the same time, look at the feasibility to organize this hospital to be a referral center for medical and medical-aid technology covering the north-west region especially in regarding to emergency transportation, surgery, pediatrician, dentist, laboratory, radiology and etc.
4. While the construction is underway, we need to find a temporary place to continue in providing health service to people as sick people can not wait until the construction is finished. Indeed, this work must be in collaboration with Japanese counterpart to ensure the smoothness of the process.
Again, On behalf of Royal Government of Cambodia and my own behalf, I would like to extend sincere thank to theGovernment of Japan for this generous grant to enhance coverage and quality of health services and to response to theRectangular Strategy and the needs of Cambodia in improving welfare and reducing poverty of its people. I believe that the ground breaking ceremony for construction Mongkol Borei Referral Hospital today and the presence of Japan in all areas of development in Cambodia has made the solidarity and friendship ties between Cambodia and Japan stronger.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to genuinely compliment the Ministry of Health, relevant institutions, development partners, national and international NGOs, civil societies and private sectors that made utmost efforts to improve health sector in Cambodia, especially in improving welfare of Cambodian people this is an immense and real contribution to poverty reduction in Cambodia. Finally, I would like to wish Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen with five gems of Baddish blessing.