Minister: Lack of Funding for Mothers, Children

One week after an international aid organization ranked Cam­bo­dia among the worst places in the world to be a mother or a child, the health minister said Thursday that the country suffers from a lack of funding for maternal and child health initiatives.

“[For] HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, we have a flow of investment lo­cally, but for maternal/child health, the investment is less,” Min­ister of Health Nuth Sokhom said in an interview.

“Concerning the infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality rate, they are high compared to others in the region. So we try our best with the donor community,” he said.

Earlier this month, Save the Chil­dren USA ranked Cambodia 100th out of 110 countries in its “State of the World’s Mothers” re­port. Countries were ranked ac­cor­ding to factors such as infant mor­tality, survival rates for wo­men during childbirth, literacy rates for women and access to clean drin­king water, according to the re­port.

Boua Chanthou, director of the Part­nership for Development in Kam­puchea, said the problem isn’t necessarily a lack of funding but how the existing funding is al­lo­cated.

“It’s a question of priority,” she said. “Women’s issues, women’s health are not up there on the agenda.”

She pointed to under funding for social issues in general in Cam­bodia, adding that more mon­ey goes to the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of De­fense than to funding for agri­culture.

Ing Kantha Phavy, minister of Women’s Affairs, said that funding is available for those who know how to source it.

“I think that in this area, a lot of [donor] countries are really willing to help. It depends on your ra­tionale to convince donors to give you funding,” she said.

“If you are not clear, people don’t understand, and of course, you aren’t funded.”

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