Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered that relevant institutions strengthen control of imports of food and medicine to prevent impacts on people’s health. He said some food and medicine could badly harm their health.

Hun Sen gave the instruction at the Ministry of Health’s annual meeting on its achievements of the past five years and direction for 2023, held in Phnom Penh on March 7.

He said the ministry and relevant institutions have to educate people about the problems of dangerous foods to prevent health impacts as this would otherwise increase the burdens of spending on the health sector by the government and people alike.

“Before, we ate just to fill our stomach and later on we ate delicious food. Now we want to eat food that is not only delicious but also safe. So, we have to set the goal of addressing food safety, the root cause of the problems – it starts with food production, not food consumption and medical treatment,” he said.

He explained that some food processing required thorough inspection before being marketed. In particular, in the past, Cambodia had advertised against the use of some products that led to deaths in many countries. So, before importing any food product into the country, it must be checked carefully to be sure that it is safe.

The prime minister said that he absolutely did not allow the import of medicines from other countries with the purpose of testing it out on Cambodians.

“Don’t let Cambodians become test subjects for other countries. When they use the medicine themselves effectively, then we put orders for the medicine to be used in our country,” he emphasised.

At the meeting, Hun Sen encouraged health officials, medical professionals and staff to focus on saving lives ethically and professionally.

He said that the main task of the officials, the doctors and staff was to save life and treat the sick with purity of heart and to love patients and medical service recipients.

Back in 2019, the health ministry told large restaurants in Cambodia to apply to the ministry for a certificate of good hygiene. The ministry announced that all large restaurants and canteens have to take hygiene and safety seriously. They must have a certificate for hygiene and safety recognised by the ministry. Food vendors will be provided with a certificate for good hygienic food principle implementation based on the level of compliance.

The ministry also issued a 2022 announcement on the management of exports, imports and distribution of raw materials, chemicals, addictive medicines and medicines with effects on the nerve system or psychiatric medicines. The announcement covers raw material production companies, medicine production companies, export-import companies and wholesale medicine companies in the Kingdom.