Cambodia is making some progress toward achieving its nine Millennium Development Goals, but it lags in three key areas: gender equality, maternal health and lower child mortality, according to speakers at a Friday conference on the MDGs.
Cambodia in 2003 set targets for nine major development goals—including extreme poverty eradication and environmental sustainability—that are supposed to be met by 2015. However, in February the UN and the Asian Development Bank said Cambodia was off-track to meet seven of these due to the global economic crisis.
In his opening remarks at the Parliamentary Forum on Millennium Development Goals, National Assembly President Heng Samrin painted a rosier picture, but admitted that Cambodia still needs to play catch-up in certain areas.
“We have certain goals that are of concern for all of us to achieve as expected, especially goals 3, 4, and 5,” Mr Samrin said, adding, “It is critically important to identify good means and strategy to move toward achieving these goals as expected.”
UN Country Director Douglas Broderick also said Cambodia’s MDG progress lagged when it came to these three indicators, but he pointed out that all nine goals should be seen as inextricably linked. Reducing maternal mortality will help reduce poverty and lower infant mortality; reducing sex- and gender-based violence will also slow the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“Gender disparity is one of the root causes of poverty and must be addressed,” he said.
Ou Orhat, secretary of state at the Ministry of Planning, said Cambodia was doing especially well in two areas: reducing HIV/AIDS infections and landmine injuries.
He said the government is also making strides toward tackling the first and broadest MDG—to reduce poverty.
“Recently in 2010, the people under the poverty line in Cambodia was 25 percent, and we hope that by 2015 we can achieve that down to 19 percent, reducing by 1.3 percent per year,” he said.
Eng Huot, secretary of state at the Ministry of Health, said that health officials would push to simultaneously improve maternal health and lower infant mortality by deploying more trained midwives to every corner of the country and encouraging mothers to give birth in health centers.
Cambodia has committed to reduce its maternal mortality rate to 250 per 100,000 births by 2015. Although it stood at 472 per 100,000 in 2008 and is not currently decreasing, Mr Huot said, other indicators—such as pre- and post-natal care and delivery in health centers—are moving in a more positive direction.