A nearly $10 million expansion of the National Maternal and Child Health Center, which officials said would allow for more advanced training of Health Ministry staff and help cut Cambodia’s maternal and child mortality rates, opened on Monday in Phnom Penh.
Japan donated about $9.7 million to upgrade the center with a new four-story building, which will be used for training maternal health personnel, and repairs to an older building, which will be used for maternal health exams, Health Minister Mom Bunheng said.
“The purpose is to train staff from the Health Ministry’s health department to become skillful obstetricians as a response to the need to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates,” Mr. Bunheng said.
The expanded center would “provide enormous benefits for reducing maternal mortality,” he said.
Last year, Cambodia recorded 161 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, down from 484 deaths in 2000, according to data compiled by Unicef, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and others. In neighboring Thailand and Vietnam last year, there were 20 and 54 deaths per 100,000, respectively. Laos reported 197 maternal deaths.
The number of women delivering babies at the center rose 80 percent, from 3,783 in 1997 to 6,810 in 2013, Mr. Bunheng said.
“The goal is to train staff from provincial referral hospitals and health centers” across the country, so they can provide quality obstetric care, said Buth Sophin, a doctor at the center.
Last year, Cambodia’s infant mortality rate was about 25 per 1,000 live births, compared to 17 in Vietnam, 11 in Thailand and 51 in Laos.
(Additional reporting by Matt Surrusco)