Health gains in Kingdom reported

A woman has her child weighed at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in 2013
A woman has her child weighed at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in 2013. A survey released on Tuesday shows improvements in Cambodia’s nutrition and general health. Hong Menea

Health gains in Kingdom reported

The Kingdom has seen vast improvements in nutrition, general health and mortality rates over the past four years, according to the preliminary results of the fourth Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS) released yesterday.

The survey assessed Cambodians’ utilisation of health services, maternal and childhood mortality, nutritional status and needs, and knowledge of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, among other key indicators.

Data for the study, which monitors the changes the country has undergone since the last survey in 2010, was gleaned from interviews conducted with 15,825 households spread across Cambodia’s 24 provinces.

“In this survey, numbers for some key issues like early childhood and maternal mortality decreased. And that is a good thing,” said Hang Lina, director general of the Ministry of Planning’s National Institute of Statistics (NIS), which played an integral role in gathering data. “All in all, it shows that everything is mostly better than 2010.”

Among mothers, pregnancy-related deaths declined to 1.70 per 1,000 live births in 2014 from 2.06 in 2010.

The death rate among children under 5 was reduced from 108 per 1,000 kids in 2010 to 70 in the recent survey.

Another category that experienced significant change was the nutritional status of children.

In 2010, 40 per cent of children under 5 were stunted and were short for their age due to a reduced growth rate caused by chronic malnutrition. Four years after, however, the number decreased to 32 per cent.

“This is a huge improvement, because before this report, malnutrition and stunting reached a critical level in Cambodia,” World Food Programme deputy country director Edith Heines said.

Heines, along with other health officials and experts, however, say that more work should be done to further better the status of general health, nutrition and living in the Kingdom.

“Economic development in the country allows for better food . . . but more progress has to be made in terms of access to good quality food, micronutrients, water and proper sanitation,” she said.

Knowledge of HIV prevention methods has also risen among women (to 77 per cent) and men (to 87 per cent) in Cambodia.

But while that was a triumph for the National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD, director Dr Ly Penh Sun said he hopes, especially following the massive HIV outbreak in Battambang’s Roka commune, that future CDHS tests take into account the prevalence of HIV among the general population.

“It would better help us so we can analyse how we could improve the HIV situation in Cambodia,” Penh Sun said.

According to NIS director general Lina, the Ministry of Planning is working to develop policies with other ministries and organisations to create solutions for issues identified in the survey.

A more comprehensive version of the CDHS will be released between September and October this year, she said.

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