Minister: Children’s Health Funds Lacking

International donors who have promised millions of dollars to fight Cambodia’s HIV/AIDS epidemic should not neglect the country’s battle to lower its child mortality rate, Minister of Health Hong Sun Huot said on Thursday.

“It’s a trend—donor countries are focusing on HIV/AIDS” or severe acute respiratory syndrome, the Funcinpec minister said. “That’s good, but there has to be a balance.

“In a developing country like Cambodia, we should also focus on the health of mothers and children. This is the priority of the Min­istry of Health for the coming years.”

Millions of dollars have been pledged to Cambodia to fight HIV/AIDS by donors such as the Glo­bal Fund, the US Agency for In­ternational Development and the Britain’s Depart­ment for Inter­national Develop­ment.

In August, the government re­placed Hong Sun Huot as chairman of the National AIDS Au­thority with Mam Bun Heng, the CPP’s secretary of state at the Ministry of Health.

Child mortality numbers have dropped steadily since the 1980s, and now Cambodia has about 125 deaths per 1,000 children under

5 years old, still one of the highest rates in Southeast Asia, said UN Children’s Fund representative Rodney Hatfield. “The odd thing in Cambodia is that the decrease seems to have slowed down considerably,” he said.

The leading causes of infant deaths are acute respiratory in­fections, which account for 20 to 30 percent of deaths, Hatfield said. Depending on the age, illnesses such as malaria, dengue fever and meningitis are also major causes.

“There should be more funding going to these issues,” said Hong Sun Huot. “For example, Cambo­dia has the vaccine to immunize against polio, but we need support because the vaccines are very expensive. If we don’t have the appropriate services, we can’t save these children.”

Some international donors, such as the World Health Organ­i­zation, Unicef and DFID, do focus on child and moth­er illnesses, Hatfield said.



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