KAMPONG SPEU (Khmer Times) – Every day, 35 Cambodian children die before their fifth birthday. Their premature deaths are caused mainly by such preventable and treatable diseases as diarrhea or pneumonia.
“See the signs – See the doctor” is the slogan of a new public awareness campaign launched by Unicef Cambodia and the Health Ministry to promote professional care for children’s pneumonia and sick newborns.
“There are still too many children who die too young needlessly,” Rana Flower, a Unicef Cambodia representative, said at the campaign launch at the Kampong Speu Provincial Health Department.
“One of the main factors of these deaths is the delay in seeking appropriate health care by caregivers, when a child displays any danger signs,” she said in the capital of this province, one hour west of Phnom Penh, on National Road 4.
Through the rest of this year, TV and radio spots are to be aired, urging mothers and fathers to seek immediate treatment when their children are affected by coughs accompanied with short and rapid breathing.
This national campaign includes distribution of educational posters, leaflets and T-shirts to villagers, and training of staff of provincial health facilities.
“We are all aware that health is wealth and is the invaluable capital for national development,” said Dr. Lak Leng, deputy director of the National Center for Health Promotion. “Healthy children have the opportunity to become valuable citizens when they become adults and to build a brighter future for the country.”
To dramatize the launch, 200 students and health professionals paraded through Kampong Speu city. Equipped with loudspeakers and wearing campaign T-shirts, they chanted: “Take your child to the hospital [for a health check] soon.”
During the event, Eng Huot, the Health Ministry’s Secretary of State, said promoting children’s health in Cambodia is a priority of his Ministry.
He said he was confident that this campaign would contribute to achieving Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals.
These eight goals, largely setting targets in health and education, were adopted by most developing nations after the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000.
Since 2010, Cambodia has made real progress in reducing child mortality. The rate of children dying before their fifth birthdays has declined from 45 per 1,000 live births in 2010 to 35 in 2014.
Newborn mortality has dropped too. One year after a health campaign on prenatal care, rates of prenatal visits jumped six fold, from 6.3 percent to 36.2 percent.
Following these successful experiences, experts believe this new campaign will contribute to a healthier future for Cambodia’s children.