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Vaccine for Khmer kids

Cambodia will be the first country in Asia to benefit from a global immunization

campaign for children.

The five-year vaccination effort starts this weekend at the Poy Mean Chey Health

Center in Siem Reap. Children from Siem Reap and surrounding areas will be given

inoculations against Hepatitis B-Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis.

"Cambodia will be the first Asian country to receive the Global Alliance for

Vaccines and Immunizations' (GAVI) support," US Ambassador Kent Wiede-mann said

yesterday.

Cambodia had been chosen as the pilot country because the Ministry of Health had

a good track record immunizing children. He said he was optimistic that the campaign

would be successful.

"A lot of very talented people are dedicated to making this happen," he

said. "From what I am aware the effort will work well, based on the [previous

success of the] polio eradication drive."

According to the Demographic Health Survey report commissioned by the Ministry of

Health, one in eight children die before the age of five. A National Immunization

Program publication stated that preventable diseases were partly responsible for

the high mortality rate.

The immunization campaign is sponsored by the Vaccine Fund in conjunction with GAVI.

The Vaccine Fund was founded in 1999 with a $750 million endowment from the Bill

and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Other health bodies such as Unicef, the World Health Organization and the Ministry

of Health are also involved.

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