August 20 2001
Honorable Deputy Prime Minister, distinguished guests,
It is a historic moment for Cambodia. We have just returned from Siem Reap where we witnessed the first immunization in Asia using new combination vaccines supported by the Vaccine Fund and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations-GAVI.
Here in Phnom Penh, we have a different, but related event before us. We are here to honor and bring national recognition to those health workers who administer routine immunizations that happen every day, and that provide the backbone of immunization services. Without strong basic immunization services, new vaccines such as the combination Hepatitis B- with the traditional DPT vaccine could not be introduced.
Immunization is a dynamic and changing business and a public health priority. While old vaccines are eradicating some diseases such as polio, new vaccines are being developed to address emerging diseases such as AIDS. In addition, the quality of traditional vaccines is constantly being improved and new technologies for delivering vaccines are being developed. None of these new developments, though, are useful without trained health workers, an effective health system, and widespread public awareness about the importance of vaccines.
Cambodia's immunization programme is in a strong position to build on its success. The successful eradication of polio, celebrated in this health center not too long ago, is evidence of the country's ability to reach every child, every where.
On behalf of the GAVI partners-WHO, UNICEF, PATH, Vaccine research institutes and manufacturers, The World Bank, USAID and other donor countries-I want to assure you of our highest commitment to support you in your efforts.
I again congratulate you in your work and look forward to learning of new immunization successes in reaching the immunization goals in Cambodia.