Nordic MPs’ visit to Cambodia spotlights collective, multilateral efforts as key to impressive health gains for the country’s most hard-to-reach

09 February 2024
© UNICE Cambodia/2024/Bunsak But
UNICE Cambodia/2024/Bunsak But

PHNOM PENH, 9 February 2024 – A joint delegation of Members of Parliament (MPs) from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden concluded a four-day mission to Cambodia today to observe how Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, Global Fund, and UNICEF programmes, supported by Nordic countries through multilateral partnerships, have contributed to impressive progress in maternal and child health in the country.

The mission, which was co-organised by the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) together with Gavi the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; and UNICEF, was also an opportunity for the ten parliamentarians to engage with key stakeholders and understand how strengthened global and local partnerships can accelerate progress on women’s and children’s health and rights, counteract the ongoing negative impact of the pandemic, achieve equitable access to primary health care, and advance socioeconomic development.

Cambodia's routine immunisation programme stands out as one of the highest performing in Southeast Asia, achieving vaccination coverage rates exceeding 80 per cent throughout the years for DPT3 (combination vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus). Over the past decade, Cambodia has successfully integrated seven new vaccines into its programme, thanks to crucial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. These include the pentavalent vaccine (DTP-HepB-Hib), PCV vaccine, IPV vaccine, JE vaccine, MR vaccine, and HPV vaccine1.Vaccination against COVID-19 reached more than 90 per cent coverage of the whole population above three years old as of September 2021, and regular boosters for specific populations up until the sixth dose has continued.

The prevalence of HIV transmission, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria has also dropped significantly over the past decade. In 2017, Cambodia became one of only seven countries to have achieved the 90-90-90 global HIV targets2 and in 2021 transitioned out of the list of 30 high TB burden countries. Cambodia achieved the goal to halt malaria mortality by 2020 ahead of schedule, with no malaria deaths reported since 2018.

During the visit, the delegation visited field activities in Siem Reap province, including the floating village of Meat Kla, to learn firsthand about efforts and challenges to strengthen health systems and deliver primary healthcare, such as immunisation, antenatal and postnatal care, nutrition screening, sexual and reproductive health promotion, and malaria testing, to remote communities.

“It’s such a privilege to be here and see the work that the organisations are carrying out in Cambodia,” said Åsmund Aukrust and Dag Inge Ulstein, parliamentarians from Norway. “And if there were any doubts: they save lives and change lives. It was especially memorable to see UNICEF’s work among children in the floating villages. In collaboration with local health authorities, they contribute to routine vaccinations and checkups.”

A visit to Aranh Rainsey Primary and Secondary School provided an opportunity for delegates to directly engage with adolescents regarding the support they receive on sexual and reproductive health rights and climate action, and how they are making a positive change in their communities through Life Skills Education supported by UNICEF.

“I am impressed with the progress we have seen for vulnerable groups, children, adolescents, and women in Cambodia thanks to, among other things, collaborations between civil society and multilateral institutions,” said Gunvor Wibroe, Danish MP. “There’s no doubt that what we have seen: vaccinations, sexual reproductive health and rights, and the work to support women’s rights and maternal health are making a tremendous difference not only for individuals but for the wider communities and the country.”

“We are incredibly impressed with the work that Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, Global Fund, and UNICEF are carrying out in Cambodia and are proud of the Swedish contributions to these organisations. It is clear to us that we need to continue investing in development cooperation,” said Swedish MPs Joar Forssell and Tomas Eneroth.

The MPs also met with the Minister of Health and high-level MoH officials, Cambodian Members of Parliament, UN agencies, civil society organisations, and other development partners to discuss priorities in the health sector, challenges towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the role partners are playing in addressing these challenges.

“The generous support of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden has contributed towards the remarkable progress on health outcomes for some of the hard-to-reach communities in Cambodia, impacting millions of lives, including children,” said Dr Will Parks, UNICEF Cambodia Representative. “Through continued strong multilateral cooperation and collective investments that prioritise equitable access of essential social services, we can help children fully realise their rights and create opportunities for a healthier and more prosperous future for every child in Cambodia.”

For more information, please contact:  

Hadrien Bonnaud 
Chief of Communication, UNICEF Cambodia  
Tel: +85523260204 Email: hbonnaud@unicef.org 

Meg Sharafudeen
Senior Communication Manager, Media and Strategic Communications, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Tel: +41797115554 Email: msharafudeen@gavi.org

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About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate more than half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organisations that fund Gavi’s work here. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 1 billion children – and prevented more than 17.3 million future deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 78 lower-income countries.

For more information on Gavi’s work, visit: www.gavi.org

Follow Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance on Facebook | Twitter

 

About the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The Global Fund is a worldwide partnership to defeat HIV, TB and malaria and ensure a healthier, safer, more equitable future for all. We raise and invest more than US$5 billion a year to fight the deadliest infectious diseases, challenge the injustice that fuels them, and strengthen health systems and pandemic preparedness in more than 100 of the hardest hit countries. We unite world leaders, communities, civil society, health workers and the private sector to find solutions that have the most impact, and we take them to scale worldwide. Since 2002, the Global Fund partnership has saved 59 million lives.

For more information on the work of the Global Fund, visit: https://www.theglobalfund.org/

Follow the Global Fund on Facebook | Twitter


1 DTP-HepB-Hib (Pentavalent): prevention against Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b; PCV vaccine: prevention against Pneumococcal diseases; IPV vaccine: prevention against Polio (Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine); JE vaccine: prevention against Japanese Encephalitis; MR vaccine: prevention against Measles and Rubella; HPV vaccine: prevention against Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

2 90-90-90 HIV targets = 90% of estimated people living with HIV (PLHIV) knew their status, 90% of those who knew their status were on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90% of those on ART were virally suppressed.

Media contacts

Hadrien Bonnaud
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Cambodia
Tel: +85592555294
Bunly Meas
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Cambodia
Tel: +85523260204;ext=435

Additional resources

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook