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Cambodia looks to clean water for better health

Cambodia looks to clean water for better health

Chronic diseases could be significantly reduced if people simply kept themselves properly hydrated with clean water, the minister of health said yesterday in Siem Reap.

“Clean water plays an important role in almost every aspect of our lives. Healthy drinking water is vital to good health and nutrition,” Mam Bunheng said during the official launch of the Biotech Water Filter Station in Puok district’s Prey Chrouk commune. According to Bunheng, just making clean water available to communities could have a tremendous impact on the lives of Cambodia’s mothers and children.

“If we have good water and sanitation, we can reduce malnutrition among children younger than five years of age by more than 50 per cent,” he said.

Flynn Fuller, USAID mission director, said these new stations demonstrate the joint efforts of the United States government, through USAID, the Latter-day Saint charities and the Cambodian government to improve access to safe water for society’s most vulnerable, especially children and women.

“Cambodia has made tremendous progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, four and five over the past five years. These goals aim to reduce infant and child mortality rates and the numbers of women who die giving birth,” he said.

The government increased the number of midwives stations across the country. It also provided incentives for every midwife assisted live birth at a health facility, Fuller said. “Health equity funds have been strengthened and increased; these funds cover health care costs for poor people and increase equitable access to health care for those who cannot effort it,” Fuller said.

According to Fuller, despite these achievements, maternal and child health is still a major concern for all of us. “The number of mothers and children under five years who die in Cambodia remains among the highest in the region,” he said.

According to Philippa Morgan, strategic partnership manager of the NGO Water for Cambodia, a lot of organisations in Cambodia are providing different kinds of water filters. Water for Cambodia builds water sand filters called bio sand filters where sand traps the bacteria. After the filtering process, “the water is drinkable according to WHO standards”, Morgan says.

Although heavily subsidised, one filter still costs US$7 to ensure it is properly looked after. If the villagers invest in something themselves, they usually take care of it, Morgan said. As an NGO, their main goal is to provide clean water to the villages, making them less sick and enabling them to work more often, which also fosters economic development in the rural areas, she said.

Chan Theary, director of the Reproductive And Child Health Alliance (RACHA), said a RACHA report revealed that in the first six months of 2012, 34 of 100 children younger than five years old who received medical treatments in Khjas health centre suffered diarrhea.

In the past three years RACHA has built water stations and five health centres.

To contact the reporters on this story: Thik Kaliyann and Anne Renzenbrink at [email protected]

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