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Malnutrition central to health gap: NGO

Malnutrition central to health gap: NGO

The gap between Cambodia’s health rich and health poor is “devastating”, according to a report by World Vision issued yesterday.

Cambodia is ranked 124 out of 176 countries on the global index based on four indicators used to measure the gap in each listed country: life expectancy, out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, coverage of health services and adolescent fertility rates.

“It’s a horrifying reality that in today’s world, when we have all the knowledge, resources and tools to provide quality maternal, newborn and child health for all, that so many children continue to pay the price for the great gap in global health, with their lives,” said Andrew Hassett, World Vision’s international campaign director.

The aid agency homed in on the Kingdom’s 40 per cent malnutrition rate, presented as the crux of the nation’s health problem.

Cambodia’s gap is exacerbated by many factors, including extreme income inequality, lacklustre social security and high out-of-pocket healthcare spending, but malnutrition remains a standalone issue.

Dr Vesana Kiri, director of planning and health information systems at the Ministry of Health, initially declined to comment and then pointed to the Kingdom’s progression in addressing child health.

“We’ve expanded coverage by focusing on scaling up obstetric care, looking at increasing access in rural areas and focusing on training more community-level health workers,” Kiri said.

But if Cambodia is to meet the Millennium Development Goals by the two-year deadline, addressing the country’s alarmingly high rates of malnutrition must be prioritised now, according to the report.

“Focusing on reducing malnutrition could be a progressive means of also shedding light on important chronic diseases that often receive less attention from donors,” said Sin Somuny, executive director of health NGO Medicam.

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