AusAID-UNICEF sign USD 1.2 million Avian Influenza communication project in Cambodia
PHNOM PENH, 2 May 2007 – His Excellency Nuth Sokhom, Minister of Health, presided over a signing ceremony today between AusAID and UNICEF for their communication project on Avian Influenza response and pandemic influenza preparedness. The Health Minister said the project is a welcome support to the national authorities, which are responsible for developing appropriate communication strategies.
Australia has made a timely donation of AUD 1.6m or USD 1.2m to UNICEF to continue and increase communication initiatives for the prevention of infection with Avian Influenza and the enhancement of pandemic influenza preparedness. Under the project, a range of communication initiatives will aim at maintaining high awareness about Avian Influenza among the population, and achieving actual behaviour change.
In announcing Australia’s contribution to the project, the Ambassador of Australia to Cambodia, Margaret Adamson, said: “We are pleased to confirm our continued support to this crucial component of the response to Avian Influenza. We know that it is essential to combine the broad reach and visibility of the mass media with intensive inter-personal communication by community-based organisations and trusted social networks. And the challenge remains enormous for Cambodia, where backyard poultry farming is a way of life for most families.”
The overall goal of the project is to teach people simple steps to keep the virus at bay. UNICEF and its partners will build on the existing momentum and the relationship established so far with provincial and local officials, religious leaders, school teachers and community LEADERS. It is expected to induce positive behaviour change to avoid infection with Avian influenza and prepare for a possible pandemic.
UNICEF’s work on this issue is part of the coordinated United Nations response to avian influenza that includes close collaboration with the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization. UNICEF has been working with the government ministries and other partners to develop and implement a communication since October 2005.
Mr. Douglas Gardner, United Nations Resident Coordinator, said the tragic death of a 13 year old girl in Kampong Cham last month confirmed to need to remain extremely vigilant. “While awareness on Avian Influenza is high, at risk behaviour is also high among adults and children. The role of the United Nations in Cambodia is to ensure, through the coordinated work of the Royal Government of Cambodia, that every Cambodian has all the necessary the information to take effective action and protect themselves and their family.”
Dr Suomi Sakai, UNICEF Representative, thanked the Australian government for this generous contribution. “The highest risk communities are often those who have the lowest literacy rates and the most limited access to sources of information both mass media and interpersonal outreach”, she said. “There is a particular need to develop appropriate communication materials, and identify - and mobilise - credible channels of communication to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized”, she added.