World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said countries around the world should study how Cambodia overcame the challenges of Covid-19 and follow its success, particularly its overarching vaccination programme.

“The vaccines saved lives. It helped Cambodia manage and reopen safely and in a sustainable way,” Li said at a ceremony to hand over two million Pfizer vaccines donated by the US to Cambodia through COVAX – a global mechanism aimed at ensuring equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines – at Phnom Penh International Airport on May 3.

Both WHO and its partners stood alongside the government and were at hand to support Cambodia in setting a good example not only for the vaccine campaign, but also the sustainable management of Covid-19, she said.

“Safe and effective vaccinations remain an important tool for the sustainable management of Covid-19. Ensuring a booster dose for vulnerable people is of vital importance this time,” Li said.

“We remain committed to working together to make Cambodia a safer country in terms of security, public health and better health in the future,” she added.

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng said that to date, 73 million doses have been determined by the government for delivery via COVAX, bilateral agreements, donations and direct purchases.

Of the number, Cambodia has received 53 million doses. Another 20 million doses will arrive in stages. As of April 30, some eight million doses remain in stock in Cambodia.

He reiterated that everyone continues practicing the standard operating procedure (SOP) of staying safe although they are vaccinated.

Meanwhile, UNICEF representative in Cambodia Foroogh Foyouzat said the Pfizer vaccines increased the number of doses sent via COVAX to Cambodia.

So far, 5.9 million out of 6.7 million doses pledged in the first stage of the pandemic have been delivered to Cambodia while another 5.5 million shots will be studied and donated in the future.

“We have many reasons to congratulate Cambodia … which has a successful and inclusive Covid-19 vaccination programme,” she said.

Foroogh noted that the “remarkable” success of the vaccination programme allowed Cambodians to return to normal life.

Children were allowed to go back to school, the borders have been reopened to welcome tourists and the economy has recovered after a two-year decline, she observed.

US ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy said the US viewed the achievement of health security as a top priority and would continue to work with COVAX partners to ensure that people around the world have access to vaccines.

With this contribution, the US reaffirmed its long standing commitment to the health and well-being of Cambodians.

“I recognise the efforts of the national teams of the Health Ministry and their courage, especially the front-line teams, where their contribution and high commitment play an important role in preventing and ending this pandemic,” Murphy said.