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Gov’t: Beggars to be given free hospital treatment

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Children collect garbage near National Road 6A in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district. HONG MENEA

Gov’t: Beggars to be given free hospital treatment

BEGGARS will be given free hospital treatment in a move to help society’s poorest, as the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is extended to help the most impoverished receive medical care, the government said on Monday.

The process of issuing NSSF cards for the destitute is to be speeded up so they can receive free medical treatment and reduce their spending burden, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said.

Speaking at the ministry’s weekly meeting on Monday, Kanharith said the government was thinking of the poorest – especially beggars – by helping them receive social security.

This, he said, means that beggars can receive hospital treatment free of charge should they fall sick, while their caregivers would also receive money from the state.

“This policy is of great importance in providing public healthcare services for impoverished people who cannot afford to treat their illnesses.

“The government has so far helped civil servants, garment workers and the Military Police to receive free healthcare services and check-ups through the NSSF,” Kanharith said.

The NSSF has come from more than 40 years of government efforts to address the hardships faced by the public, civil servants and workers, with them receiving free medical treatment, he added.

“I only want to speak about the inclusion of beggars in the scheme. After the Ministry of Planning releases the results of the 2019 census and we can determine who are beggars, we can help them access free treatment because they are among the poorest people.

“We have social security cards for state staff who work on a regular basis. Social security cards are now to be given to the poorest and the Ministry of Planning has the criteria to identify who they are,” Kanharith said.

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour told The Post on Tuesday: “This responsibility for social assistance comes under the political framework of social protection. The government will use the National Social Security Fund to sustain this programme.”

Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation spokesman Touch Channy could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

“In other countries, centres are established for beggars to give them food and assistance, with the budget coming from the state. These beggars are usually migrants, but in Cambodia, they come from their local areas,” government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post on Tuesday

Rights group Adhoc spokesman Soeung Sen Karuna said that extending social protection to society’s most impoverished was a positive development. However, he noted that local officials often did not provide social security cards to the right people.

“The problem is that these services are often provided to those who are not in need of them. Wealthy people who should not have social security cards are receiving them. This leads to problems and criticism of the authorities at the local level,” he said.

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