Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t preps new health plan

Gov’t preps new health plan

A woman receives fluids as she sits on a bed in a ward at a hospital in Phnom Penh this year
A woman receives fluids as she sits on a bed in a ward at a hospital in Phnom Penh this year. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t preps new health plan

Plans for a universal health care system will be included in the 10-year strategy to strengthen Cambodia’s social welfare, according to a government official, as a new report reveals almost three-quarters of Cambodians lack any legal health coverage.

The study, released this week by the International Labour Organization, states only 26.1 per cent of Cambodians are affiliated with a health system or scheme.

Meanwhile, 57 per cent of the Kingdom’s total health expenditure comes through its citizens’ own pockets, with the average amount spent per capita increasing annually by 12 per cent between 2007 and 2011, according to ILO’s study, titled Addressing the Global Health Crisis: Universal Health Protection Policies.

Vathana Sann, deputy secretary general of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, said although the council didn’t see eye-to-eye with ILO on the figures, it shared the organisation’s goal of extending health care coverage.

“At the moment, we have a targeted health system for the poor and near-poor, but as we move towards becoming a middle income country, we are also moving towards a more universal system,” Sann said.

He said his department was working with UNICEF on a cost action plan to advance Cambodia’s social protection system, including establishing a universal health care scheme funded by payments by non-poor Cambodians.

The scheme, similar to those that exist in most of the developed world, would be included in the 2015-2025 National Social Protection Strategy.

“We need an institutional, sustainable social health protection system like in most other countries around the world,” added Sok Kanha of the Department of Financial Planning and Health.

“The Health Equity Funds [HEF] are just a program, so eventually they will disappear,” she said of the funds that subsidise medical treatment for poor citizens through Cambodia’s ID Poor system.

Presently, according to Sann, the HEF program covered about 70 per cent of poor Cambodians. Meanwhile, Community Based Health Insurance was also available to those who didn’t qualify for the HEF program, particularly those working in the informal sector.

Workers in the private sector can register and contribute to the National Social Security Fund for health coverage.

Sann said he hoped a universal system would be in place by 2025, when Cambodia is officially set to become a middle-income country. “Now we just have to focus on filling the gaps and improve the coordination and quality of health care to increase the demand of people willing to pay for it.”

Friday is the UN’s Universal Health Coverage Day.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman