Bun Rany Asked to Champion Women’s and Infants’ Health

To help combat Cambodia’s high rates of maternal and newborn mortality, Bun Rany, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife, was tapped as a “national champion” yesterday for a UN-led program that looks to im­prove the health of women and children worldwide.

A spokesperson for the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office said the action plan sprang from a need to speed up global progress on meeting the fourth and fifth Millennium Development Goals, which aim to promote gender equality and reduce child and maternal mortality.

Though currently listed as “on track” to achieve these goals by 2015, an average of five women die every day giving birth in Cambodia, prompting the UN to approach Ms Rany in October, asking her if she would become a national champion for the issue.

“The role of national champion for women and children’s health is a voluntary advocacy role, which Her Excellency will undertake on top of her other advocacy roles,” the UN office wrote in a statement, “and will be supported by the UN in Cam­bodia, in particular health partners, which include [the UN Population Fund], UNAIDS, WHO, Unicef and the World Bank.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Ms Rany called for contributions and assistance from donors to continue, adding she hoped to see a referral hospital in every district of Cambodia.

“I really like this job and am very proud of saving a woman’s life while she is giving birth to a newborn,” she told the audience. “I have requested to ambassadors and the UN sec­retary-general to please continue to donate more money, specialists and materials to reduce the death rate of women and children.”

Also present at the ceremony was Health Minister Mam Bun Heng, who congratulated Ms Rany and said the country was working to­ward its goals.

“Although we have achieved gradual progress in the health sector, we need to have stronger participation from the entire population, families, communities, the national and sub-national authorities to support health activities and important interventions,” he said.

 

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