Excellency Dagfinn Hoybraten, Chairman of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Board,
Princess Infanta Cristina, the Kingdom of Spain,
Excellency Secretary General of East African Community,
Excellencies Ministers of Health of the Friend Countries,
Distinguished Guests from World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Today, it is my pleasure to preside over the Opening of the Board Meeting of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), with the immense pride that the GAVI Alliance selected the Kingdom of Cambodia to host its board meeting. This clearly reflects a close cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and GAVI Alliance, providing financial and spiritual cooperation and full support to the Kingdom of Cambodia, making great contribution to enable Cambodia to achieve significant boost in the introduction of new vaccines, further strengthening the health system for equitable provision of vaccines to Cambodian children.
I would like to extend warmest welcome to the GAVI Alliance’s Board of Directors who are now in Phnom Pen, the capital city of the Kingdom of Cambodia. The presence of Your Excellencies, Princess, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen as well as Distinguished Guests will help strengthen the strong joint commitment among the member countries in improving the universal child welfare. At the same time, I realize that this meeting is another sharp impetus to speed up the process of introducing new vaccines and extend immunization coverage for children.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to highly appreciate the management and civil servants of the Ministry of Health and all concerned ministries-institutions, who have actively fulfilled their tasks to realize this valuable assignment, which is the improvement of child welfare, elimination of a number of diseases infecting the children, which eventually contributes to Cambodia’s socio-economic development. I would also like to thank and highly commend the development partners, national and international organizations, especially the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, who have provided active cooperation as well as providing technical and financial support to the national immunization program of the Ministry of Health, enabling Cambodia to realize the great achievement in this sector. I believe that these tasks will increase our position to be more solid, further consistent and will be able to overcome challenges and obstacles, especially to prevent Cambodian children from fatal illnesses.
The national immunization program of the Ministry of Health restarted its action in 1986 after Cambodia totally ended Pol Pot’s genocidal regime, then immunization services for children was gradually extended to a number of provinces until it was spread across the country in 1988, and by 1999, we provided the tetanus toxoid vaccine to Cambodian pregnant women.
With highly moral responsibilities, I still remember that I committed myself with the World Health Organization to eradicating the polio disease. Through this joint concerted effort, if I am not mistaken, the last confirmed case of Polio in Cambodia was only in 1997, then Cambodia has been recognized and certified as “Polio-Free Status in the year 2000”.
Along with this, the cooperation between GAVI Alliance and Cambodia has been in good progress since 2001 through the introduction of the combined Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTP) and hepatitis B vaccine into the routine vaccination programs for children. Since then, the Royal Government decided to introduce new hepatitis B vaccine to vaccinate the new-born baby in 2003. Moreover, we also introduced new vaccines such as the combined (DPT-HepB-Hib) and measles second dose and another new vaccine in 2010 to prevent both measles-rubella that we have recently launched the campaign from October to December 2013 by vaccinating about 4.5 million children nationwide.
In this regard, I would like to inform the GAVI Alliance’s Board of Directors that, as the outcome in 2012, Cambodia made the greatest success in which Cambodia reduced the transmission of the hepatitis B virus to children aged 5 to 2 percent; and there is no case of measles detected since December 2011 in Cambodia. In parallel, I would like to reaffirm Cambodia’s commitment to adopting new vaccines and finding new methods to widely and equitably provide immunizations to all children.
With our initiated commitment and effort, Cambodia has made more and more progresses steadily. In fact, in the year 2000 the coverage rate of three vaccines combined into a DPT form was only 43% and nowadays it is 85% as shown in the 2010 Health and Demography Report. Truly, the increase in the rate of vaccination coverage is the outcome of Royal Government’s investment in vaccine provision services for the public. Recently we have devoted more attention to the vulnerable in local communities such as villages in remote areas, ethnic minorities’ villages, and migratory people and people living in urban areas. All these are some of the progresses that Cambodia worked hard to achieve with the aids of development partners, and on that basis Cambodia will continue making greater effort in the enhancement of the child welfare.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and myself, I am pleased that the GAVI Alliance has continued to accelerate the inclusion of new vaccines. In that regard, Cambodia would like to request for the inclusion of Pneumococcal Vaccine by 2015 and vaccine for HPV and Rotavirus and JE in the near future. All these are important for Cambodia in narrowing its gap and differences with other countries in the region, and enabling all Cambodian children to equitably get vaccines like other nations in the globe.
Truly, the progress of health sector on vaccinations and immunization is indispensible for greater poverty reduction of Cambodian people. This has not only promoted trust in Cambodia’s health sector but also enhanced the image of the Kingdom of Cambodia on the international stage. On this basis, though Cambodia has potential to achieve its 2015 Millennium Development Goals on the health of children beyond expectation and nowadays parents have confidence that their children live well, grow healthily and are free of diseases compared with their parents; Cambodia has continued its effort and unwavering commitment with new vaccines and immunization.
For the time being, the Royal Government will continue its effort with and stringently implement in-depth reform of national programs providing immunization as well as continuing its focus on the implementation of health sector reform program laid out before, as these are not only life-and-death matter but also show the ownership of Cambodia in ensuring the welfare of the people and infants. In this spirit, the Royal Government of the 5th Legislature will continue its effort in implementing and updating “Strategic Plan for Health Sector 2008-2015” in order to ensure the sustained progress of development of health sector, aimed to promote sanitation, health, welfare, and nutrition of Cambodian people, particularly of the poor, vulnerable, women and children. At the same time, I would like to announce that priority is given to provision of vaccines to every Cambodian child regardless of their political ideology, color, nation and race. For this cause, Cambodia will continue to expand the scope of public health services closer to the people by continued expansion of infrastructure for this sector more vigorously such as the construction of referring hospitals, health center, health posts based on geographic situation and demography as well as providing instruments, equipment, medical accessories and medicines and appropriately skilled medical personnel and increase the coverage of preventive vaccinations for children and the provision of micro nutrients and nutrition to infants and so on.
In the spirit of the aforementioned, I have a firm belief that Cambodia will become more active and vigorous with national programs providing preventive medicines and Cambodia’s health sector will be promoted and enhanced steadily. Truly, all these achievements are inseparable from the contribution of the friend countries and development partners. In this connection, I would like to thank the GAVI Alliance and all development partners for supporting Cambodia to include new vaccines steadily and thank the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the coordination of the successful implementation of supporting activities of GAVI Alliance. At the same time, I would like to highly value development partners, development agencies, national and international organizations, and relevant institutions that always collaborate with and provide all kinds of support, including the preparation of action plans and implementation of activities in health sector, with the objective to increase the efficiency of healthcare service provision for the people in the past in the cause of poverty reduction, socio-economic development in Cambodia in line with the spirit of Rectangular Strategy-Phase III: Growth, Employment, Equity, and Efficiency in Cambodia.
In this spirit, I would like to request all level of management and officials of the Ministry of Health, ministries and institutions, relevant organizations, development partners and agencies, private sector, all professional associations for continued support and effort in order to achieve the vision of Cambodia’s health sector development, including the rehabilitation and expansion of physical infrastructure, the development of institutional capacity, human resources, and provision of healthcare services, particularly vaccinations and provision of preventive medicines in order to timely respond to the need of child welfare and people across the nation. Through this, we firmly believe that Cambodia is more and more qualified to ensure the welfare of the people, particularly the children who will vigorously continue to contribute to the take-off of national economy and the ease of the livelihoods of Cambodian people to live in dignity, prosperity and happiness; Cambodia can own its destiny and play a full role as genuine partner on an equal footing and equal right with other countries in the region on vaccinations and provision of preventive medicines to children. All these have made me believe that cooperation between Cambodia-GAVI Alliance will continue making the livelihood of Cambodian children better and more pleasant in their lives with prosperous future.
Once again, I would like to express my warm welcome and high valuation to the GAVI Alliance Board of Directors who are present here and wish all the members a very pleasant and comfortable stay in Cambodia. I hope you all will bring good memories of Cambodia, Kingdom of Wonder, back to your respective countries.
Before ending, I would like to wish the Meeting of the Board of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization success and fruitful discussions, contributing to the development of vaccines and provision of immunization to children as a common goal for the whole humanity.
Finally, together with the opening of the “Board Meeting of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization” now, I would like to wish Excellencies, Princess, Ladies and Gentlemen the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness and Strength./.