Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, it is a great honor and pleasure for me to join you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, in the hand-over ceremony of the medical equipment and supplies donated by France. We also today inaugurate two buildings for maternity, radioscopy and neurological therapy and examination, in the Calmette Hospital’s compound, a modern hospital of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
On behalf of the Royal Government and People of Cambodia and myself, may I extend our profound gratitude, through H.E. Pierre André WILTZER, the Minister for Cooperation and Francophony, to the People and Government of France for their direct engagement in the reconstruction of Cambodia and improving the living standard of our Cambodian people.
We all always treasure the valuable contribution by France through the rebuilding of peace in Cambodia and the assistance that France has provided to the Kingdom of Cambodia, especially in the health sector. This particularly includes the construction of hospitals and cooperation among hospitals and health science universities of our two countries, and the provision of medical equipments and supplies as well as that of scholarships for training of 172 specialized doctors over the past 10 years. The aids have been of great significance for Cambodia’s recovery. All the assistances provided by France are invaluable and we have used them very efficiently. Apparently, the donation of medical supplies and these two new buildings that we will open now present another great achievement testifying the best and close long-standing traditional relationship between Cambodia and France.
Indeed, in our effort to overcome the long and difficult road over the past years we have faced many challenges. However, with our strong determination we have managed to overcome those challenges successfully, achieving considerable and bold results which are now having positive impacts on strengthening the pillars of the society and the culture of peace, security, safety and social orders, democracy, respect of human right and people’s dignity, thus far have opened up new horizon of opportunities providing hope for the future of our country.
From this perspective, it is indeed very crucial to successfully advance all the reform momentums, so far attained, to be fast tracked, widely expanded and deepened to ensure the sustainability of development which will result in accelerated poverty reduction among our people. In this favorable context, the RGC has given high priority to social development, especially to improving health services to be more effective and efficient.
The Calmette Hospital has gone through many critical periods and is now opening new pages of its history for best practices, – which are prideful and promising for Cambodian people. Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate and appreciate for the efforts of the management and all the staff of Calmette Hospital in focusing on rebuilding the physical infrastructure, such as buildings, equipping the facilities and training medical staff, in order to provide best quality health services to clients.
I still remember that I did join the opening of new buildings and the handing-over of a scanner donated by French Government on 7 May 2002. During that time, foreign donors hesitated to provide Cambodia with such modern equipment, doubting the country was unable to adopt the technology because of lack of specialists and patients. But it turns out that, according to the report, Calmette Hospital has provided “scanning” service for up to 3,493 people within 18 months for the purpose of diagnosis and timely treatment. Up to now, the revenue from fees charged for scanning service has recovered two third of the cost of the machine, while helping provide scanning service to a great number of poor people.
In addition to opening of the building, today we also join in a ceremony to hand-over the modern equipment worth almost USD 1.4 million. With the intention to improve the effectiveness in providing service to patients, the manager of TOSHIBA Singapore, who joined me during the opening of a conference room in 2002, has volunteered to purchase this new equipment, with appropriate price and 5 years gradual repayment without any interest. Thus, I have agreed and instructed Cambodian technicians to conduct a study tour in Singapore and visit the Toshiba’s plant in Japan to get this modern equipment to operate and provide the public service to Cambodian people. I think the Calmette Hospital could not afford to pay back the cost of this equipment as quickly as it did for the Scanner. Nevertheless, it is the need for public health, and I believe the hospital will try its best to repay as agreed in the terms of contract.
Indeed, the Calmette Hospital has become an administrative public entity, enjoying a status of financial autonomy. Thus, the hospital can move forward by its own, such as in expanding and constructing new buildings to meet the demand of patients in maternal and neurological therapies, and providing well-equipped and modern VIP rooms for national and international patients.
In fact, financial autonomy implies that we have to generate revenue or income to cover the costs. Even the hospitals, which are public administrative institutions, are financially autonomous, but they are still non-profit organizations. Thus, they are not entitled to make profits like other factories or enterprises. We serve and deliver public service with contribution from patients who have ability to pay in order to help those who lack this ability. We have observed that anything that completely relies on the state could not quickly progress. In the world, there is no country where the state guarantees all provisions of public health service, though there are some treatment costs covered by the state, but they are paid from the funds that the government withholds social security or insurance contributions deducted from the civil servants’ salary.
The status of financial autonomy provides public entities with flexibility to handle sales and purchases or independent rentals, but this must be managed and reviewed carefully, with high responsibility and adherence to the existing provisions of laws and regulations. The practice of “financial autonomy” by public institutions, such as one implemented in the Calmette Hospital, could serve as a model for others. The hospital has developed physical infrastructure, such as these new buildings worth USD265,069; and equipped with other equipments, furniture and appliances worth USD57,585. So far, the hospital has provided treatments to 6,442 poor people, about 36.6% of inpatients per year while the number of patients admitted to the hospital per day has increased to 300 compared to 200 per day in the previous year.
Moreover, I would like to emphasis that all the achievements the hospital has attained so far are the outcomes of our hard works over a long period, combined with the efforts of cooperation between Cambodia and France, and those of our board of directors, management, personnel and all the staff of the hospital. Furthermore, the French cooperation has expanded technical assistance to other hospitals in the capital and provinces.
I am convinced that other main hospitals will follow the path gone through by the Calmette Hospital, which already comes up with good management system, thus becoming similar financially autonomous public administration entities. This would build on three key factors for effective functioning of hospitals, which include:
First, clean facilities with hygiene and comfort, as well as equipped with modern, well and adequately maintained equipments.
Second, highly qualified staff without any discrimination on patients and adherence to professional ethics and morals.
Third, sound financial resource, allowing for additional investment and adequate salary for staff, as well as helping the poor who have no ability to pay the fees.
Improving the health system is one of the objectives of the Royal Government’s reform program, providing Cambodian people with access to quality health service. This is a key sector, which can contribute to the national development, especially to economic growth and equitable distribution of the fruits from that growth.
In this context, the Royal Government’s Strategy for Health Sector 2003-2007 has clearly stated the priorities we must focus on and successfully implement. Those include: the provision of basic health service for all Cambodian people, financial and administrative deconcentration, human resource development, attention on elimination and prevention of infected or transmitted diseases especially HIV/AIDS, and the strengthening of health information system.
Indeed, if we look at the objectives of the health strategy, we found that considerable progress has been made. But, we are not yet satisfied with the results. The Royal Government recognizes that there are many challenges and shortcomings. Though the Ministry of Health has delegated financing decisions down to the district and commune levels, but the actual results are limited, not up to the degree we desire. Moreover, the deployment of health personnel to provinces has not yet met the demands.
The health sector is experiencing lack of resources, though during the past five years the Royal Government has tripled the budget for the Ministry of Health. Access to health service by poor families is still limited due to high cost of private health service. Moreover, I observe that there are problems remained with us, such as inappropriate use of medicines and equipments because some of them are spoilt and the use date is expired. Some hospitals face shortage of medical supplies and others receive late supplies beyond the expiration date, while the others store the medicines too long and they are expired. Thus, I request the Ministry of Health to conduct a review and find out the reasons for the delayed supply, the supply of expired medicines and equipments which are not appropriate for use.
Thus, generally we have plenty of works to be done. Therefore, I urge the Ministry of Health and all the hospitals to continue strengthen your efforts and help reducing the problems which have adverse impacts on public health. I also urge all the health personnel to strictly adhere to professional ethics and conducts, in order to move forward toward succeeding our Health Strategy 2003-2007, which the RGC has set. I believe the medical supplies and the new buildings we inaugurate today will significantly contribute to my main thrust in improving the health status of our Cambodian people.
Once again, I deeply thank for the generous and humanitarian gestures, clearly reflecting France’s commitment in helping Calmette Hospital and other hospitals in the Capital and provinces and in some districts, especially the support provided to the health sector in Cambodia. It should be noted that this is also the position always taken by France in helping countries in the Francophony Community, such as Cambodia. We hope and strongly believe that France will continue to provide scholarships for medical specialists and provide medical supplies to hospitals across the country, and help foster more and more cooperation agreements between hospitals of the two counties, – thus facilitating our cooperation and help extending the lives of those infected with HIV/AIDS.
I also thank the Toshiba and Dynamic Pharma Co. Ltd. Companies in Cambodia, who have donated USD100,000 through myself in helping build two buildings, and facilitate the Calmette Hospital to buy the IRM machine on credit, with no interest and five year repayment period. I believe the companies will sale their other products on credit, and with long term repayment and appropriate price.
Finally, Let me end by extending to you all, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist wishes. With great pleasure and strongly convinced by the good and close long-standing relationship between Cambodia and France, I declare the opening of this building.