Civil society organisations asked the government to issue urgent measures in the health sector, as well as increase its budget in order to address non-communicable diseases, as nearly 60,000 Cambodians each year die from illnesses.
The request was made yesterday at the Validation and Consultation Workshop on the draft report on “Analysis of Policy Aspects on Non-Communicable Diseases in the Kingdom of Cambodia”.
Executive director of Health Action Coordinating Committee Tim Vora said the government, relevant institutions and partners have previously, disseminated and educated the public regarding communicable diseases, prompting the rate of deaths to decline dramatically.
But for non-communicable diseases, he said, intervention was minimal and garnered little interest, despite the high death rate due to such diseases.
“Fatalities caused by non-communicable diseases are higher than communicable diseases, but there seems to be less interest, intervention, information and budget,” he said.
Mr Vora has requested the government and relevant institutions to pay closer attention to non-communicable diseases and issue urgent measures, including budget increases.
He said action was needed regarding strengthening enforcement on the Law on Tobacco Control, the issuance of law on alcohol and improved food safety.
He also said more public gyms in schools were needed, alongside better access for communities seeking to treat such diseases.
“Increasing taxes on tobacco products, alcohol and added sugar beverages is also a good measure. We also need to collect money from the tax increase, which can be used for non-communicable disease treatment and prevention,” he added.
Executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia Tek Vannara said non-communicable diseases have a significant impact on the people and the national economy.
“The provision of information is very important to all people and stakeholders so they can understand how to prevent non-communicable diseases. If our people are healthy, they will directly reduce the state’s need to spend on health,” he said.
He said: “That is why we [CSOs working on food security, food safety and health] have conducted a joint study of policy aspects on non-communicable diseases to gather feedback for further discussion with the relevant ministries, institutions and policymakers.”
Member of the National Assembly’s Commission on Health, Social Affairs, Vocational Training and Women’s Affairs, Nguon Sam An, said the government and Health Ministry have been paying much attention to both non-communicable and communicable diseases to protect the well-being of the people.
He said: “The CSOs’ request [for an increase] in budget to curb non-communicable diseases is a good thing, but they should also acknowledge that the health sector budget has continued to increase over past years.”
He said he also wants to see the inclusion of non-communicable disease education into students’ curriculum so that children and young people are made aware of the causes and preventive measures against such illnesses. Currently, only adults receive information about such diseases, said Mr Sam An.
According to a World Health Organization’s study, the Cambodian government has spent about $84 million on health care related to the four major non-communicable health conditions, which are heart disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases.