Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has told governors of all towns and provinces to instruct the heads of health departments to prepare for upcoming natural disasters.
Bun Heng’s letter, dated July 7, said seasonal fluctuations and climate change are causing frequent disasters such as heatwaves, thunderstorms, lightning, strong winds, cyclones, droughts and floods. He said they can harm or kill citizens as well as damage infrastructure.
“I request excellencies of the provincial board of governors to advise me and the director of the health department to be fully prepared in advance for a timely and effective response to save the health of the people who will get affected,” he said.
The minister stressed that health departments should be ready to prepare working groups to rescue and treat victims. He emphasised ensuring services for pregnant women.
Also, the health departments shall cooperate with relevant authorities and organisations to prevent the spread of diseases, especially Covid-19.
The minister’s letter came after the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) found that during the first six months of the year, rainstorms and lightning strikes killed 35 people, injured 64 and destroyed 711 houses while damaging over 4,000.
NCDM spokesman Khun Sokha told The Post on Wednesday that rainstorms and lightning caused 50 per cent fewer deaths and injuries compared to the first six months of last year.
Sokha said river water levels start to increase each July and there will be floods in September and October. But so far, the levels have not risen much and the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology has not forecast any floods as yet.
“Climate change is not just a problem for Cambodia, it is a global problem. For the small and poor countries, it’s very impactful.
“Some provinces have experienced droughts and some have been flooded. We should proceed with caution because from now on, it’s difficult to predict the weather in advance as it’s consistently changing,” Sokha said.
He said droughts generally occur during rainy season, due to late rains, or a short rainy season, which also causes water shortages in some provinces while irrigation is still limited.
The NCDM said only about 25 per cent of Cambodians have access to information before a disaster occurs.