Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia will return 15 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to China for donation to other countries. The vaccines in question were ordered but had not yet arrived in Cambodia.

While presiding over the Ministry of Health’s annual meeting held on March 7 to review its work results in 2022 and direction for 2023, Hun Sen said the return was at the request of health minister Mam Bun Heng.

“I have decided to return the 15 million doses, which have not yet been shipped to Cambodia, to our Chinese friends as we currently have about six million doses in stock and our vaccination rates are declining steadily. If we take the 15 million doses, it would be difficult to use them all, so we decided to transfer it to our Chinese friends so that they can share them with other countries that are in need,” he said.

“We cannot keep the vaccines, which will expire soon. So I have already approved returning them,” he said.

Hun Sen also provided recommendations for improving the health sector and the quality of health services in Cambodia.

He said Covid-19 and other pandemics that may arise in the future from animal-to-human transmission as well as antibiotic resistant bacteria, climate change associated risks and disasters like floods and droughts all pose a threat to public health.

“In this context, the health ministry and relevant authorities must continue to strengthen the health system. They need to build sufficient capacity at both national and sub-national levels to respond in a timely and effective manner in monitoring, researching and evaluating cases and assessing the situation, as well as enhancing the ability to prevent, reduce risks and recover after crises or public health emergencies,” he said.

Improving the quality of health services was also mentioned.

He said improvements must be made on a regular basis to the quality of healthcare services and other related services to meet the expectations of patients or clients and to increase people's trust in the public health system. Thus, he added, it is necessary to strengthen the effectiveness of mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the quality of services that are currently being implemented.