Australia has increased its assistance through UNICEF by an additional $3.3 million to aid the integration of Covid-19 vaccinations into routine immunisation services as part of primary healthcare.

Under its Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative, Australia has already provided $31 million to Cambodia, working in partnership with UNICEF, and has successfully delivered 2.83 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid -19 vaccine to the country.

According to a press release issued on May 30, UNICEF in Cambodia announced that Australia has joined forces with UNICEF to promote equitable and integrated Covid-19 vaccination and routine immunisation services.

This collaborative effort aims to enhance overall access to quality healthcare in Cambodia by integrating Covid-19 vaccinations with routine immunisation programmes. The initiative seeks to ensure comprehensive vaccination coverage across all stages of life, safeguarding individuals, particularly children, from preventable diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, polio, and hepatitis B.

Australian ambassador to Cambodia, Justin Whyatt, expressed great pride in the Embassy’s role in supporting Cambodia’s successful Covid-19 response and vaccination achievements.

“As we transition from the acute phase of the pandemic, now is an ideal opportunity to strengthen primary healthcare as part of our recovery and preparedness for potential future health emergencies. It is crucial for essential health services to be of high quality and accessible to even the most vulnerable and remote communities,” he emphasised.

“Our latest collaboration with UNICEF underscores our unwavering commitment to inclusive and equitable health services for all,” he added.

Will Parks, UNICEF representative to Cambodia, affirmed the joint commitment to improving the health outcomes of Cambodian children and their families under the leadership of the government.

Parks highlighted the broader impact that integrated services, focusing on equity, strong community participation, and outreach, can have on people’s health and well-being, as exemplified by the Covid-19 vaccination efforts.

Expressing gratitude for the continuous partnership with UNICEF and dedication to advancing child survival and rights, Parks expressed appreciation for the Australian government’s ongoing support.

On May 30, a joint delegation comprising Prak Sophonneary, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Health, the Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, and the UNICEF Representative to Cambodia embarked on a two-day visit to Takeo province. The purpose of the visit was to observe primary healthcare services and integrated service delivery in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the visit, the delegation engaged with local authorities, including the Provincial Governor, medical staff, and local communities, to assess the impact of Australia and UNICEF’s support in Covid-19 vaccination efforts integrated into routine immunisation services and community outreach.

Cambodia stands among the top countries globally with the highest Covid-19 vaccination rates, as 99 per cent of the adult population has received the primary two vaccine doses.

Or Vandine, Ministry of Health spokeswoman, stated that the Ministry plans to introduce routine Covid-19 vaccination programmes within six months, following the sixth vaccine dose, across health facilities and state health centres nationwide.

As of May 29, Cambodia had successfully vaccinated 95.56 per cent of its population, according to the Ministry of Health.