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.”