Patriarch Preah Pothiveang Non Ngeth,
Venerable Buddhist Monks,
H.E. Lee Han Goong, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea,
Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen,
Distinguished National and International Guests;
Today, it is my honor and pleasure to join all of you in the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a new building for pediatric health care, which is the generous support from the people and the government of the Republic of Korea to the National Pediatric Hospital through the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation and gratitude through H.E. Lee Han Goong, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Cambodia, to the Republic and people of Korea for their kind contribution to rehabilitate and improve the livelihood of our people.
We always remember the generous contributions of the Republic of Korea (ROK) for the cause of the rehabilitation of Cambodia and its development in recent time. This assistance is extremely meaningful to Cambodia to be able to re-emerge from its dark history. Assistance from the ROK in recent years is invaluable and has been used in the most effective way. Indeed, the new building and facilities that we will soon break the ground for construction here in the National Pediatric Hospital is another generous achievement reflecting traditional and close relation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and ROK.
It is certain that children’s and maternal health care is one of the priorities in the RGC’s social development program. We therefore should increase prime responsibility in ensuring children’s health, intelligence, knowledge, dignity and happiness in their family and society.
In view to achieving these goals, we not only need to take care of children by preventing them from diseases, vulnerability and abuse and exploitation as well as from drugs but we also need to fight against poverty through investments in improving good environment for children. This would help them to become real human resource and the strong pillars of the country to take over the responsibility of developing our nation in all sectors to lead Cambodia towards bright progress in the future.
Indeed, since 07th January 1979, the RGC has strived to build and develop socio-economic infrastructure to provide health service and education to our people, children and youth by establishing orphanages, schools, hospitals, referral hospitals, health centers, especially, through the implementation of childhood vaccination program, nutrition program, malaria care and the prevention of outbreak of AIDS… etc. We are proud that the WHO recognizes that Cambodia has been successfully combating polio.
At the same time, the RGC increases its budget for social sectors, especially health and education aiming at improving maternal and infant health care service. We also provide budgets to schools through the implementation of Priority Action Programs in order to enhance the quality and efficiency of education which is the as means to successfully implement the Poverty Reduction Strategy.
The main goal of the RGC’s Reform Program is an improved health system, which is able to provide high quality health service to Cambodian people because health sector is an important part that contributes to the development of the country at large, especially to economic growth and to the equal sharing of the fruits of growth.
Within this framework, the RG’s strategy of the health sector for 2003-2007 precisely outlines priorities to be taken into account and be successfully implemented, including the provision of basic health services to every Cambodian, financial and administrative deconcentration, human resource development, determination in eradicating and preventing infectious diseases, especially HIV/AIDS and strengthening health information system.
Indeed, if we make a comparison with the objectives of this health sector’s strategy, we have already achieved some major successes. However, we have not reached complacency yet. The RG recognizes that we still have more difficulties and inefficiencies. Even though the Ministry of Health has provided financing to districts and communes, concrete results have not reached satisfactory levels. Moreover, appointment of health staffs to serve at various provinces has not met the demand yet. The health sector still faces resources inefficiency even though during the last five years the RG has increased its budget for the Ministry of Health by three times. There is still a limit to the poor families in receiving health services because they have spent more on private services. Moreover, I have been observing some remaining issues regarding the use of inappropriate medicines such as those of poor quality and over expiry date. Some hospitals are lacking of medicines while some others have received expired medicines or stockpiling medicines until they expired. For this issue, I would propose to the Ministry of Health to undertake a review in order to find out reasons for supply shortages, supply of expired and of poor quality medicines and those medical facilities, which are not suitable for use.
In sum, we still have many works that need to be done. Therefore, I would like to call for the Ministry of Health and all hospitals to continue these works and to minimize any inactivity which could bring about negative results in the provision of public health services. I also pledge to all health officials to always be in high moral and to be professionally conscious as doctors in view to successfully implement the health strategy for 2003-2007 which has been set forth by the RG. I believe that the new building that we are celebrating the ground breaking ceremony at this Children Hospital today will crucially contribute to my first ambition in improving the health situation of Cambodian people for the better.
Indeed, even though we have achieved fruitful success in providing care for children our, which is the joint effort between the RG, NGOs, civil society and our people, the issues concerning the service provision for children have not fully responded to the demand by children as expected in the RG’s policy programs and the MDGs, hence, the remaining works are still heavy burden to the RG.
Therefore, we cannot achieve the above mentioned tasks without good supports and cooperation from NGOs, international organizations and civil society. In this spirit, I would like to request ministries, institutions, civil society, NGOs, and aid community to continue to provide vaccines that prevent diseases and malnutrition such as deficiency of iodine and vitamin A. Support should be accorded to the implementation of infant nutrition program including “total-breast-feeding” and breast-feeding for newly born infants as well as the ability to receive maternity health services and birth-spacing related services.
Once again, I would like to express my deep appreciation to ministries, institutions, aid community, civil society, NGOs, and international organizations that have supported health sector in Cambodia. In particular, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to generous and human gesture of the Republic of Korea for the support to our National Pediatric Hospital.
Finally, I would like to whish Your Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five Gems of Buddhist Blessings. With the most joyful sentiment together with a strong belief on a good and close cultural cooperation between the two countries Cambodia-Korea, I hereby announce the ground-breaking ceremony of new building construction in this National Pediatric Hospital from now on.