– Your Venerable Buddhist Monks,
– Your Excellency Shinohara Katsuhiro, Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Cambodia,
– Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguish National and International Guests,
– Beloved Citizens!
I have a great honor and pleasure today to come here again to join you all, Your Venerable Buddhist Monks, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Teachers, Students and all beloved Citizens, and especially with H.E. Shinohara Katsuhiro, the Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Cambodia in the inauguration of a new building of Mongkul Borei Cambodia-Japan Friendship Referral Hospital at the Banteay Meanchey Province. It is a valuable donation from the Government and People of Japan to the Government and People of Cambodia.
Indeed, we are all aware that each and every citizen has an equal right to receive health care services. Thus, I have adopted and encouraged for a vigorous implementation of the strategic health objective aiming at providing to all Cambodian citizens both in urban and rural areas with quality health care services.
Certainly, this high ambition can be reached by our joint utmost efforts and comprehensive consideration in order to achieve progress by taking destiny into our own hands aiming at attaining new accomplishments with the supports of all our development partners.
On this occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government and People of Cambodia as well as myself, I would like to express our profound gratitude to the Government and People of Japan for their continuous support and noble contribution to peace building, political stability, socio-economic rehabilitation and development leading to gradual improvement of living standards of our people. This Mongkul Borei Cambodia-Japan Friendship Referral Hospital is the new achievement which will always be appreciated by the Government and People of Cambodia and recorded in our history.
As we are all aware, the decades of prolong civil war and political instability left Cambodia with a devastated public service system. The genocidal regime totally destroyed the national health institution. We can recall the entire national health institution, the infrastructure, administrative structure and human resource, had just been rehabilitated in the period from 1980 to 1989. During that time, many health personals had been trained and the entire health system had been re-institutionalized, funded and equipped. The health personals had been deployed to hospitals at all levels from national hospitals, provincial hospitals, district hospitals to commune hospitals. All national health programs such as treatment of tuberculosis, malaria, polio and nutrition provision program have been implemented within the whole health system.
The main target of the government reform program is to improve the health system which provides high-quality health services to all Cambodians and to transform the health sector into an important part of the economic system. As a result, the efforts made by the government so far have improved health system, which has contributed to the development of Cambodia. Since 1998, we have made a lot of progresses in enhancing the health services in Cambodia. This achievement witnesses the fact that several years ago Cambodian children suffer polio which now no longer exists. Several years ago, the Cambodian people suffered from malaria. At present, Cambodia is regarded as successfully combating against malaria. Moreover, the mortality rate of children below five years has been reduced by 33% during the last 5 years. The awareness of people on health has also improved, particularly the good knowledge on HIV with rate of HIV-infected adults dropping to just 0.6%.
At the same time, I am convinced that the results of these efforts are not due to the urge or pressure from any party, but it is the result of the response to the real needs of Cambodia, especially the efforts of the Royal Government to reduce poverty through intervening in the health sector with the combination of good progress in other relevant sectors, for example the construction of roads, bridges and telecommunication network have facilitated in the transportation of patients and strengthening health sector. The progress in education sector has also facilitated the dissemination of health information. Overall, these factors have transformed into the improvement of health, productivity of education, harvesting and general knowledge including the comprehension of human rights.
On 15 June 2006, His Excellency Takahashi Fumiaki, the former Ambassador of Japan to Cambodia, and I participated in the groundbreaking ceremony to construct this hospital. At that time I had talked about history of Cambodia-Japan cooperation related to this Mongkul Borei Cambodia-Japan Friendship Referral Hospital which has a history of more than 40 years. As mentioned, the official inauguration of the Mongkul Borei Cambodia-Japan Friendship Referral Hospital presents a new additional achievement of the Japanese Government. Furthermore, another special meaning of this inauguration represents the new historical day of Cambodia-Japan cooperation concerning directly to this hospital.
I also have noticed that this noble donation from Japan targeting at hospital located in the North-Western part of Cambodia represents cooperation for the benefits of rural habitants, especially the poor living in this region. When this hospital starts its operation, people in this region can make a saving because they do not need to travel to seek health care services offered at distant referral hospitals, such as in Phnom Penh as this hospital has been equipped with the modern medical technology.
These new buildings that have been built and equipped with modern equipment are the benevolent donation from the Government and People of Japan to the Ministry of Health, especially to the people in this region. In these regards, I would like to suggest some recommendations to the Ministry of Health, stakeholders and hospital personnel as follows:
First, though we have made prideful progresses in the health sector, we have to be aware that the battle of poverty reduction in the health sector requires us to continue exerting our efforts, especially narrowing the gap of health accessibility between urban and rural and between the rich and the poor. Maternal and children health and the fight against the spread remain our priority. We also need to concentrate our attention on emerging issues such as traffic accidents, bird flu and chronic diseases due to imbalance food intake while our people have enough to consume.
Second, I would like to repeat my recommendations during the groundbreaking ceremony such as: to prepare qualified health personnel and budget for the operation and to consider possibility to transform this hospital into the referral center for medical technology and supports in the North-Eastern region as well as providing both high quality health services and supporting the internship medical training program.
Third, effectively utilizing Chapter 65 in the national budget on the support of poor patients. In this regard, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economy and Finance have to cooperate for timely and effectively implementing the Inter-Ministerial PrakasNo. 809 on the Principle of Poor Patients Supports with transparency and harmonized framework of Equity Fund supported by international donors.
Fourth, health services personnel are those that work directly with people. Therefore, please adhere to tolerance, morality, professional ethics, especially no discrimination for the poor or any other patients.
Fifth, public networks in this region have to be strengthened and expanded for the effectiveness of patient transportation by cooperating with relevant sectors to timely respond to the needs in that region, especially the transportation of pregnant women, who have complication signs and victims of traffic accidents.
Sixth, indeed, the private health sector is the inevitable partner of the public services. However, while there is a need to promote private investment, the public sector is obligated to prepare rules and regulations to ensure the safety to the patients. There are a lot of issues need to be addressed in the management of this sector. I would like to warn the powerful officials who are behind the illegal private pharmacies and clinics, which causes complication to the authorities. One of the most regrettable factors is the creation of private ambulance without skilled emergency doctors and proper medical equipment and compete for victims of traffic accidents in the same way as taxies compete for their passengers. These problems have occurred because of support from some unethical government officials and caused the lost of many lives as the patients lost the chances of survival and arrived too late at the public hospitals.
Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and myself, I would like to deeply thank the Government of Japan that has generously donated this hospital to enhance the capacity of hospital located far from Phnom Penh.
I would like to sincerely compliment the Ministry of Health, relevant ministries and national and international organizations, civil societies and private sector for their concerted and uttermost efforts in the causes of promoting health sector and welfare of the people that has contributed to poverty reduction in Cambodia. Finally, I wish all of you with the five gems of Buddhist Blessing.