NEW maternal health centres are to be built in a number of Cambodia’s provinces in order to reduce the Kingdom’s high maternal mortality rate, Health Minister Mam Bun Heng announced at a seminar at the National Assembly on Thursday.
Mam Bun Heng said the centres, called “waiting houses”, will be located near rural health centres and referral hospitals, and will be in addition to the 28 already built in Stung Treng, Oddar Meanchey, Kratie, Pursat, Preah Vihear, Preah Sihanouk and Battambang provinces.
They will be used to accommodate pregnant women leading up to the birth of their babies so they do not have to travel long distances on difficult roads to receive treatment, he said.
“It is a very good way to help the people who live far away from the health centres and do not have the means to commute to the centres,” he said.
Pen Sopahanara, communications officer at the UN Population Fund, said her organisation financed the building of waiting houses in two provinces in 2006, as well as another two recently this year.
“We see that this project is useful in promoting maternal health and the health of the baby during the delivery process,” she said.
Also present at Thursday’s seminar was Ho Naun, chairwoman of the Commission on Public Health, Social Work, Vocational Training and Women’s Affairs. She said that although the government attempts to address this issue, she is still unsatisfied with the result.
“The government, NGOs and relevant institutions all have to work harder in order to reach the UNDP’s Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” she said.
News of these new waiting houses comes following the death of a 27-year-old woman who died during a cesarean section on Sunday.
The victim’s mother, Mak Pheun, 57, said she has filed a complaint to Oum Sinath, district governor of Kampong Trach, to find justice for her daughter, but the governor says he has not received it.
“As of today, I have not received any complaint from the family. I don’t know where they have filed it as I have checked with my justice officer, and they have not seen it either,” he said.
“I have discussed this case with the chief of the health department, and the matter is under investigation.”