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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Health budget boost planned to help poor

Health budget boost planned to help poor

With the costs of health care on the rise, Health Minister Mam Bun Heng yesterday revealed plans to increase public health funding in order to provide greater medical coverage for those unable to afford it.

The ministry will increase spending while also improving the disbursement of funds and using money more efficiently in order to expand programs such as the Health Equity Fund, according to a summary released during the ministry’s annual two-day conference, which began yesterday.

The Health Equity Fund, which is funded by the government as well as development partners, provides subsidies to poor and vulnerable people, such as the elderly and disabled. However, no specific details on the funding increase were provided.

More than 3 million impoverished people currently receive government-funded health care, according to the report. “Increasing the budget for health care is really needed to ensure that everyone, even the rich or the poor, get health care services when they need them,” Bun Heng said during the meeting.

The amount of money that people were spending out-of-pocket for health care was high, Bun Heng said, and most were seeking care in the private sector. That could cause low-income families to fall deeper into poverty, he said.

The increased funding would allow the continued development and improvement of health service delivery to all citizens, so that they could get medical care regardless of their income and where they live, according to the report.

Cambodia was named as one of 37 countries where 6 per cent of the population could be pushed further into extreme poverty due to out-of-pocket health costs, according to a 2015 report by the World Health Organization.

Dr Ly Sovann, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said the government increases public health funding every year to help the poor.

According to the Ministry of Health report released yesterday, households across the country covered more than 40 per cent of the total health care costs expenditures.

Meanwhile, 1.7 per cent of families in the country fell into poverty in 2014 due to health care expenses. That figure was down from 2.5 per cent in 2007.

Dr Momoe Takeuchi, the World Health Organization Cambodia’s acting health system team leader, was not available for comment yesterday.

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