A senior Ministry of Health official said the maternal and child health protection programme has the highest priority in the ministry’s national strategy, and is also one angle of the government’s rectangular strategy.

Youk Sambath, ministry secretary of state and director of the National Nutrition Programme, made the comment during the June 13 handover ceremony of educational and office materials to project implementation units in seven target provinces.

Sambath said the ministry – as well as the National Council for Nutrition in Cambodia – will continue to work with local authorities and volunteers.

“Today, through the nutrition programme, we have shared supplies with the National Centre for Maternal and Child Health, which is a direct collaborator in this programme. We are not only supplying materials, but also cooperating to expand the programme to other provinces in the future,” she said.

The seven targeted provinces that received the educational materials are Preah Vihear, Koh Kong, Kampong Chhnang, Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Kratie.

“Our partner organisations, together with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, will continue to support this programme as we all know that the maternal and child health protection programme is the main priority of the health ministry’s national strategy policy,” she said.

She added that even while it was contributing to the fight against Covid-19, the ministry never forgot its fundamental goal of providing maternal and child health support.

“When a baby grows up healthy, they will be mentally and emotionally developed, and will be valuable human resources for the nation. I hope that the nutrition programme will expand to other provinces in the future,” she said.

Sambath also revealed that she had discussed the programme with the World Bank and other partner organisations in the hope that its expansion could be funded.

Kuong Lo, director of the Preah Vihear provincial health department, told The Post on June 13 that the materials provided by the ministry were for the provision of child nutrition services and that malnutrition rates among children in the province had fallen.

Lo said the 2014 Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS) showed that more than 40 per cent of Preah Vihear’s children were stunted. The 2020-21 CDHS showed a marked improvement.

“Preliminary results of last year’s survey showed a stunting rate of slightly over 20 per cent, about half of the 2014 figure. We are waiting for the final results of the report, but it looks like the programme is working well,” he said.