Your Venerable Monks,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today I am exceptionally pleased and honored to join you all in the official inauguration of the new classroom building and the degree-handover ceremony for doctors, pharmacists and profession dentists and dental specialists. This achievement clearly reflects your great efforts to share the Royal Government’s burden in developing human resources in order to fulfill the requirements for national development, as stipulated in the “Rectangular Strategy”, and in order to address the necessity for the improvement in social welfare and poverty reduction for now and the future. At the same time, I can recall that this is the second time for me to participate in such a magnificent ceremony here, after my first participation in the groundbreaking ceremony on 16th August 2005, more than 2 years ago.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and on my own behalf, I would like to show my deep appreciation to Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, who are leaders or officials of the University of Health Science, for having made physical and mental efforts to complete the construction of this building, which in turn will contribute to human resource development in Cambodia’s health sector. Furthermore, I would like to warmly congratulate all students who have studied very hard to successfully complete your courses, and who will be awarded with degrees soon. Your degrees are an undeniable evidence of your knowledge and competency in the framework of medical health science profession which will contribute to the improvement in health care and medical treatment for our people in the near future. Your proud achievement today is a timely and appropriate response to the policy agenda for health sector of the Royal Government, and the country’s needs to develop human resource which is an important key for socio-economic development aiming to alleviate poverty and improve peoples’ living standards, the Royal Government’s main objective.
The University of Health Science is the first educational institution in Cambodia, founded in 1953, and then closed on 17thApril 1975. After the liberation day on 7th January 1979, under the People Republic of Cambodia Regime, this university was reopened in response to the immediate needs to rehabilitate health situation in Cambodia. At the time, only 30 doctors were fortunate enough to survive the Pol Pot Genocidal Regime. Moreover, I still remember that, to contribute to the human resource development, I have personally presented a thesis on “strengthening conscience and moral” to then medical students who are now actively providing health care and medical treatment services to Cambodian people, and are contributing substantially to the health sector development in Cambodia.
At the same time, the Royal Government acknowledge that Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry has developed itself gradually in the last 2 decades, by transforming itself from a faculty to the University of Health Science. During this transformation period, the university plays an important role in the capacity building of health sector in Cambodia, aiming to pool together highly skilled and specialized intellectual capital in medicinal, pharmaceutical and dental fields which is the backbone of Cambodian health sector. Particularly, students from various promotions have completed their studies in the University of Health Science and are now providing health services nationwide. Also, I would like to extend my warm congratulation to doctors, pharmacists, dental specialists and professional dentists who have recently completed their courses and successfully presented their thesis. I strongly believe that all graduates will use their knowledge to strengthen the delivery of health care and medical treatment services to Cambodian people as well as to improve the effectiveness of the health sector in Cambodia to another level.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to show my appreciation to the management of the Ministry of Health as well as leaders, officials, and professors working in the University of Health Science who have made physical and mental efforts to strengthen and expand human resource development in the health sector, which is an important key that contribute to poverty reduction, aiming to improve the peoples’ living standards and to strengthen the competitiveness and competitive advantage of Cambodia in national, regional and global framework.
After the liberation day on 7th January 1979, the then Cambodian Government has put great efforts in rehabilitating and rebuilding health sector after being totally destroyed by the Pol Pot Genocidal Regime and 2 decades of prolonged war. At that time and until recently, the Royal Government always considered the health sector as a priority sector for poverty reduction. Particularly, the Royal Government has recently pushed for the improvement of public services delivery, especially for the poor and vulnerable groups in rural areas, including the establishment of the national fund to support the poor who fall ill, in combination with the Fund for Equity provided by development partners. Moreover, the Royal Government has pushed for the dispatch of health officials to provide services in rural areas by allowing the Ministry of Health to recruit additional 1000 personnel, by ratifying the principles for providing bonuses to nurses, and by publicly disclosing a Royal Decree which allows the Royal Government to expand nurse recruitment and promotion in this framework.
To sum up, the Royal Government has paid great attention on health sector by cooperating very closely with various international development partners and proudly achieved measurable outcomes through the implementation of joint monitoring indicators, especially the Population and Health Survey for 2000-2005 indicates that child mortality rate decreased at the average rate of 6% every year since 2000. This reduction rate has been on average 3-4 times faster than the annual reduction speed of other developing countries during 1999-2005.
At the same time, we are fully prepared to prevent and reduce the effect of various disasters as well as epidemics including bird flue which is occurring in the world, especially, in the Asia Pacific Region. Cambodia has also tumbled across such incidence. Large scale natural disasters as well as contagious diseases such as bird flue took place both in developing and developed countries alike, and the tragedy has not yet been effectively addressed. Such phenomenon implies that the impact of various disasters has resulted in the destruction of public property and infrastructure in a blink of an eye, whereas the development and rehabilitation of such things can take a very long time to complete. Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Cambodia was fortunate enough to be exempt from large scale natural disasters. However, it does not mean that we should neglect or ignore the preparation for such events because whenever they occur, the impact can be very fast and devastating. Therefore, we must be jointly prepared, particularly in providing public health related services and treatment for the people who are vulnerable to fall as victims from such events.
For instance, recently we have gained successful experiences in preventing and reducing the impact of flood disasters in 2000, 2001, and 2002, the worse flood disasters ever. During that time we have also succeeded in managing and effectively controlling both flood and drought disasters for 3 consecutive years, especially, in nurturing health and supplying food to the victims.
Meanwhile, there have also been improvements in other fields of health sector including the improvement in reproductive health, maternal health, nutritional health, combating against various infectious diseases such as HIV AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, bird flue and POLIO etc. Besides, this year, I would like to sincerely express my deep appreciation for the Ministry of Health for having closely cooperated with the concerned parties and played the leadership role in effectively control dengue fever which spread across almost the entire region, including Cambodia. For instance, even though the wave of contagion has resulted in the increased numbers of infected children, we have health programs that could accommodate timely treatment of the disease and hence, this year’s death toll related to dengue fever was kept low at 1%, decreased by 1.2% from 2006.
Even though we have achieved such prideful outcomes we must acknowledge that there are still more works and duties that we need to jointly address and respond to according to the need of our people. Children and maternal mortality rates have been reduced but are still relatively high compared to the neighboring countries. Moreover, we still can not avoid new problems and threats such as bird flue, traffic accidents, and terminally-ill diseases. Therefore, I would like to raise some more recommendations in addition to what I have raised so far for the continuous and more effective implementation of works relating to the development of health sector in Cambodia as follows:
First: The Ministry of Health must pay attention to and cooperate with concerned institutions to thoroughly review its strategic plan as the foundation for establishing a clear and achievable health action plan for 2008-20013.
Second: The Ministry of Health and all related institutions must strongly ensure that its strategic and health action plan must be applicable to the real situation of Cambodia for the benefit of Cambodian people which can ensure equity by protecting the poor and vulnerable people as well as to ensure financial sustainability through implementing appropriate and practical mechanisms such as connecting the Fund for Equity to the ideas of establishing health insurance system.
Third: As for medical professionals including students who are receiving their degrees today, I would like to ask you to strictly comply with professional code of ethics, especially to have compassion for the poor, and to always keep humanitarian principle in serving the people. In this connection I would like to reiterate that with respect to hospital development, the Ministry of Health must balance the current resource available with the need to modernize medical facilities, doing so we can achieve our prioritized goal of encouraging and promoting necessary private sector participation. At the same time, despite the fact that we have adequate and implement able laws on health sector, health care management in private sector still have many controversial issues such as counterfeited drugs, illegal medical services and exaggerated advertisement etc. These are the problems with which the Ministry of Health and institutions concerned must jointly address in aiming to ensure high quality health care services for our people.
Fourth: In order to assure the quality of education on health, especially tertiary education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Accreditation Committed of Cambodia (ACC) and relevant institutions must thoroughly ascertain quality of training.
Fifth: The new classroom-building which we are inaugurating today is an obvious achievement of implementing public administration reform program within the Rectangular Strategy’s framework of the Royal Government of Cambodia, thus the Ministry of Health must keep implementing this reform program with conformity to public service delivery policy which has been approved by the Council of Ministers Meeting on 5th May 2006.
Sixth: In response to the requests made by 12 bilateral and multilateral development partners, I have nominated H.E. Nuth Sokhom as the Cambodian representative to participate in the International Health Partnership initiative which was held on 5th September 2007 in London, Great Britain. Cambodia is very proud to participate in such event because it has been chosen as one of the 7 participating countries at the first stage of the initiative. Hence, the Ministry of Health must be prepared and arrange a clear roadmap to meet the demand from the initiative, especially it must strengthen the leadership and ownership role of facilitating the co-financing mechanism because the signed agreement clearly stated the responsibilities of all the 7 recipient countries and 12 provider countries, especially the agreement requires the recipient countries to discuss extensively with their national and international partners to update national health program, planning and principles as well as to ensure transparency and accountability in the management.
Once again, I would like to express my profound compliment to the Ministry of Health, concerned institutions, international and non-governmental organizations, civil society and private sector for making utmost efforts to promote health sector and improve our people’s wellbeing. These are indeed the enormous and true contribution to poverty reduction in Cambodia.
Finally, I would like to wish Your Venerable Monks, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, national and international distinguished guests and the awarded students with Five Gems of Buddhist Blessings. I would like to announce the official inauguration of the new classroom building of University of Health Science.