Regional Health Ministers Ask for Continued Donor Support

siem reap – Health ministers from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam last week made an appeal to international donors and organizations to support their efforts for malaria control and other regional issues and vowed to cooperate to fight malaria and address health issues the three countries share.

In their Declaration on Regional Collaboration, the health ministers said that a regional coordination committee established under European Union support played an important role in the success of anti-malaria efforts in each country.

The cooperation established through this committee should continue and be expanded to communicable diseases, border quarantine matters, injury prevention, food safety, and the proliferation of counterfeit drugs, they said.

Since the start of the EC project in 1997, the number of deaths due to malaria fell 70 percent in Cambodia and the number of malaria cases was cut nearly by half. In Laos, the number of deaths decreased 90 percent and malaria cases by 95 percent; and in Vietnam, the number of deaths dropped 73 percent and malaria cases 62 percent.

This was accomplished through regional cooperation and, at the same time, careful adaptation to the needs of each country, said Hong Sun Huot, Cambodia’s minister of Health.

Not only have malaria cases dramatically decreased in the region, but also health care services have improved through training and support to district centers,” said Ponmek Dalaloy, health minister for Laos.

“The program ends but our fight against malaria continues,” he said. This is a big challenge for countries as poor as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, which is why the three countries are trying to get international support, Pon­mek Dalaloy said.

Although the ministers will ask their governments for funding, maintaining the program with all its components-from public education to village volunteer training-will require foreign help, said Tran Thi Trung Chien, minister of health for Vietnam.

In response to their request, Klauspeter Schmallenbach—EC ambassador for Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia-said the EC has set aside funds to support the health sector in the three countries.

The EC plans to allocate about $10 million to Vietnam, $5 million to Cambodia and $2 million to     $4 million to Laos for the next two years, he said. However, having met its goals, the malaria program will not be renewed, Schmal­lenbach said.

Health ministers from Cam­bodia, Laos and Vietnam first met in 2001 at a conference in Hue, Vietnam, Hong Sun Huot said. They had agreed to meet every two years to discuss common issues and areas of cooperation, he said. Their second meeting will take place in Cambodia next year, and their third one in Laos in 2005.

In addition, a cooperation agreement has been signed between Cambodia and Vietnam, and a cooperation agreement between Cambodia and Laos should soon be concluded, he said.

 

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