Cambodia Ranked Low on Environmental Health

Cambodia ranked 110 on a list of 133 countries graded on environmental factors affecting health such as drinking water, sanitation and air quality, according to research conducted by Columbia and Yale universities in the US.

The 2006 Environmental Perfor­mance Index—officially released on Thursday at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland—evaluated countries based on the UN Millen­nium Development Goals.

Cambodia was squeezed be­tween Liberia, ranked at 109, and Sierra Leone, ranked 111, on the in­dex, which was researched in cooperation with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Cen­tre of the European Commission.

“Cambodia’s environmental health indicators are indeed far below the average for the East Asia region—they are the lowest in the en­tire region,” said Marc Levy, associate director of the Center for In­ternational Earth Science Infor­mation Network at Columbia Uni­versity. “They are also far below average for countries of similar per-capita income levels,” he said.

According to the 2006 Index, the Cam­bodian population has the poorest access to drinking water and adequate sanitation in the region. Indoor air pollution was found to be extremely high due to wide­spread burning of solid fuels without adequate ventilation, Levy said.

“Cambodia has one of the lowest levels of energy use per GDP in the entire world. However, this is not a function of energy policy, but rather a function of low levels of economic development,” he added.

Health Minister Nuth Sokhom said on Sunday that his ministry is work­ing with the Industry and Ru­r­al Development ministries on water is­sues to reduce health hazards.

The National Health Action Plan developed by the government and health organizations address environmental health issues, such as water supply and sanitation, said Na­sir Hassan, environmental health advisor to the World Health Org­­anization in Phnom Penh.

However, he added, “there are a lot of things to be done in the country to improve environmental health.”




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