Aiming to improve birth spacing and maternal health services, the UN Population Fund and the Ministry of Health signed Wednesday a two-year funding agreement worth nearly $3 million.
Though the use of modern contraceptive techniques by Cambodians has increased from 7 percent in 1994 to 19 percent in 2002, much still remains to be done, Mam Bun Heng, secretary of state for the Ministry of Health, said at the signing ceremony.
Contraceptive need is still too high, and since 55 percent of the population is younger than 21, that need is likely to grow, Mam Bun Heng said. Also, he said, though the fertility rate for married women of reproductive age has fallen from 5.4 percent in 1990 to 4 percent in 2000, it is still too high.
Moreover, Cambodia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the region at 437 deaths for every 100,000 live births, Mam Bun Heng said.
“Concerted efforts to further promote safe motherhood activities need to be made if the maternal mortality rate is to decrease from the current level,” he said.
Through the upcoming project, the UNFPA aims to ensure that birth spacing and safe motherhood activities will remain a vital part of primary heath care services at the district level, said Yoshiko Zenda, the UNFPA’s representative at the signing ceremony.
To this end, the UNFPA funds will be utilized by the Ministry of Health’s reproductive health program, regional training centers and provincial departments of planning, Zenda said.
“The budget will be used for provincial hospitals and health care,” added Mam Bun Heng, and “more midwives will be trained [to provide for] safe motherhood.”