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Minister puts neo-natal intensive care on agenda

Women wait with their infants outside the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh last year.
Women wait with their infants outside the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh last year. Pha Lina

Minister puts neo-natal intensive care on agenda

Health Minister Mam Bun Heng has issued a directive for all private maternity clinics and hospitals to establish neo-natal intensive care units – which treat seriously ill newborns and premature infants – in order to further reduce maternal and child deaths in the Kingdom.

Cambodia has already enjoyed substantial successes in improving maternal and child health, cutting the child mortality rate to 170 for every 100,000 as of 2014, compared to 472 for every 100,000 in 2005.

Bun Heng said in the letter, issued on Thursday, that the ministry must collaborate with the private sector to continue to make progress. “We appeal to the private hospitals and clinics that provide maternity services to create neonatal services in their offices to help save the lives of babies,” he wrote.

However, one director of a maternity health clinic in Phnom Penh, who asked to remain anonymous, said establishing such services would be difficult due to their high costs. “We need staff [and] we need modern equipment,” the director said. “Even state hospitals don’t have” a neo-natal unit.

Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann said officials at this point have only made a request, but haven’t discussed how the ministry will ensure that the clinics follow through with the order and what will happen to those that don’t comply.

“But if they all could do it, it would really help decrease the child death rate,” he said.

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