The Health Ministry yesterday launched the Cambodia Nutrition Project 2019-2024 to promote the health of children and women in seven provinces.
Health Minister Mam Bun Heng said the project costs $53 million with funding from the government, World Bank, Global Fund for Women, Children, Youth, and the Development Bank of Germany and the Australian government.
He said that the project will contribute to the promotion of health services for pregnant women and newborn children at the health and community level in Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Kratie, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear, Kampong Chhnang, and Koh Kong provinces.
“Cambodia’s nutrition project will reduce the gap between the rich and poor, urban and rural areas and improve access to universal health coverage,” Mr Bun Heng said.
He said that the project complements the implementation of the Health Equity Fund, aimed at improving the quality of healthcare services, which is currently underway.
Mr Bun Heng noted that under the project, staff in local health facilities will receive additional training to improve their services, including by providing counseling and education on nutrition during pregnancy, post-natal and infant care and monitoring the growth of children.
He said under the project, campaigns will be held to change peoples’ mindsets on nutrition and inform them about the benefits and access to healthcare.
Mr Bun Heng said that maternal and infant mortality and child mortality have decreased markedly in the Kingdom through government programs, and the project aims to bring the rates down even more by focusing on the root causes of malnutrition.
He noted that studies show that malnutrition among children under five years old in Cambodia decreased from 16.9 percent in 2000 to 9.6 percent in 2014.
“In order to avoid child malnutrition, investment should focus on and start from the moment the baby is born until the child attends school, especially during the first 1,000 days after birth until the child is two years old,” Mr Bun Heng said. “Eradicating child malnutrition is a golden investment for the Kingdom.”
He noted that since June 1, the government had been providing cash aid to pregnant women and children under two years old from poor families.
Last week, the UN released a report saying that an estimated 820 million children in the world were undernourished last year, up from 811 million in the previous year.
It said the largest number of undernourished people (more than 500 million) live in Asia, mostly in southern Asian countries, followed by Africa.