We have now achieved our goal of putting out a strategic plan for the eradication of malaria by the year 2025, a good sum of 14 years from now. We have proven to win a great success in our fight against polio or infantile paralysis in Cambodia. It was a battle that commenced since when Cambodia was under two factional controls that in a way constituted our concern about situation for children in the area under the Khmer Rouge control too. Fortunate that luck was on our side that we had been able to implement win-win policy that eventually and gradually integrates Cambodia into one nation whereas vaccination against infantry paralysis had been possible. By 2002 Cambodia declared a country free of polio.
As we are now in 2011, once again Cambodia is mapping out a national strategy to eradicate malaria. As is outlined in the paper, some areas of Cambodia are not prone to malaria – Phnom Penh, Kandal, Prey Veng, Svai Rieng, etc. In fact this sort of disease has downgraded to a great extent in general. However, we need to have a more coordinated and interrelated actions and plans so that a rate of zero malaria could be achieved by 2025. Personally, in coordinated actions, I believe by 2020 or 2021, malaria would be wiped out.
I had malaria when I was 18 years old. From then on, where I was in the malaria hit areas, I did not get it anymore. I am sure that we will get an amazingly impressive result because of better means of media and tools available such as insecticide-treated bed nets or anti-malaria mosquito nets. Though this campaign has been going on for quite a while, we should go on with these tools. The paper is indeed a roadmap for actions by concerned institutions.
I have asked HE Mam Bun Heng, Minister for Health, if there are more diseases that can be eradicated? He hinted smallpox but rules out tuberculosis. I encourage the Ministry of Health to go ahead with planning for actions against and eradicating other known and preventable diseases. The plan has extended to a period of 14 years or three terms of the Royal Government of Cambodia. I hope political parties understand the need to have a long-term plan and action in this area. In the event that a different political party gets elected, and they see that the plan is not worth continuing, the newly elected party may just drop it off.
In the course of our efforts in the field of healthcare, I would like to stress out further efforts aimed at reducing mother and child mortality rate, which is part of our millennium development goal. In his report, HE Mam Bun Heng has expressed his confidence that Cambodia would achieve its millennium development goal. It is true since Cambodia did score a great success and won a UN award for combating and reducing HIV/AIDS infections in Cambodia. We should try to score new achievements and I would like to thank all partners in this campaign and effort for our people’s sake.
It is indeed not a simple matter to challenge old habit in the rural areas, where women in pregnancy always go to traditional midwife rather than going to health clinic for their cares. We need more efforts and investments too. We must see that this is a two way effort where one would be from the pregnant women and another from trained midwives and/or doctors. With infrastructural development now we have changed situation where previously midwife and doctor concentrate in and around bigger cities to currently more services of such have been provided to rural area too.
In old times, sick people, even women in difficult delivery situation for instance, would be transported in hammock carrying by two men on their shoulders or between bicycles, along roads with holes and/or impassibility. That situation was recorded with death of people with curable diseases and pregnant women who could have been saved from timely medical assistance. Our people now have benefitted from new roads and bridges in so many ways but here I mention only in healthcare and emergency.
Issue of nutrition is also a matter of urgent attention because to achieve the goal of healthy birth there must be effort to take care of mother and child since inception. To achieve capable human resources, health and education play pivotal role. In health perspective, it is our duty to ensure safe delivery and good health for mother, while children survive and have good health. In education perspective, we have to make sure they get equal chance for education. I would encourage my wife to share with you all her support. Our country is poor but we cannot stand to be lacking of mind and heart.
Let me say a few words regarding to counterfeit drugs and unskilled and unlicensed physicians. This is a matter of concern too. There have been cases where abortions have been performed by unskilled physicians. There have been cases of unrecorded death because of this too. It has been known with alarm that abortion in such condition and situation has been frequently reported not only in cities but also at district level. I urge that the Ministry of Health and relevant institutions take prompt measures to prevent and control this practice./.