With more than 2,000 households living with HIV/AIDS having received IDPoor cards, a top Ministry of Planning official has urged others to register at their commune should they be in need of government assistance.
Keo Ouly, director of the ministry’s Department of Identification of Poor Households, was speaking at a meeting in Phnom Penh on July 20 discussing IDPoor cards for HIV-positive and key vulnerable people.
The IDPoor scheme is a government initiative to strengthen social protection in the Kingdom.
Ouly said people living with HIV who qualified should not allow the fear of stigmatisation to prevent them from registering for an IDPoor card.
While more than 2,000 households living with HIV/AIDS had received IDPoor cards, he said this did not point to a true figure, with many people living with HIV hiding their status.
With the government having recently changed the registration for IDPoor cards to a daily basis rather than every three years, Ouly urged people, especially those who are HIV-positive, to register at their commune to access the scheme.
“We urge people who are poor or are suffering tough living standards to apply to their commune, where their suitability will be considered. If they are deemed suitable, they will then be interviewed.
“After this, the commune council will convene a meeting to approve the results of the interview and then issue the IDPoor card,” Ouly said.
He said that while more than 60,000 people had been recorded as HIV-positive in Cambodia, not all qualified for IDPoor. He encouraged families who are really in need to register for the scheme.
A 37-year-old HIV-positive woman in Battambang province’s Roka village said she had received the card after 300 people in the village were infected with the virus in 2014 after a notorious “medical malpractice” case.
The scheme had been of great benefit to her, with free public services and other government assistance.
“This card helps me a lot when going to hospital. I do not have to pay for services and medicine. When the coronavirus spread, those with these cards received cash handouts every month which helped reduce hardship.
“I would greatly encourage those who are HIV-positive but do not dare to come forward to register and receive the card,” she said.
Kong Bunthorn, who represents men who have sex with men (MSM) in Cambodia, said while it was encouraging that those living with HIV could qualify for IDPoor initiative, more should be done to widen access.
He said the scheme was not yet open to groups vulnerable to
HIV such as MSM and workers at entertainment establishments, or to HIV-positive persons afraid to reveal their status.
Bunthorn called on the government to implement procedures to allow vulnerable groups and all HIV-positive persons access to the IDPoor scheme.
“I support the introduction of online applications for IDPoor cards or through the hospital where HIV-positive persons go for consultation. If the government were to introduce this, it really do so much good.
“I request that the planning ministry eases some conditions for those able to receive the card,” he told The Post on July 20.
While Cambodia had nearly 700,000 poor households made up of more than two million people on the IDPoor scheme as of 2020, according to the planning ministry, the cards of more than 10,000 households had been returned after their living standards improved.