The World Bank on Friday approved $15 million to equip medical professionals with skills to ensure quality of care for better health outcomes, it said in a statement.
The budget released by the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) will help the Ministry of Health’s Human Resources Development Department strengthen governance and medical education.
The sum is in addition to $20 million credit given by World Bank to Cambodia for its Covid-19 medical efforts in March.
The latest project is aimed at improving regulations and standards for educating and training doctors, testing graduating doctors at the national level and providing technical assistance and knowledge exchange for medical specialists.
Six health programmes on general medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, midwifery and laboratory will be developed by the University of Health Sciences and the regional training centres.
The bank’s country manager Inguna Dobraja said investing in capacity building for health professionals by equipping them with better knowledge and skills to deal with emergencies such as Covid-19, and strengthening the health sector are crucial for Cambodia’s health service delivery system.
“[We are] committed to helping Cambodia improve healthcare for [her] people, especially the poor and most vulnerable,” she said.
The bank said Cambodia lacks specialised and qualified doctors, evidenced by its data which showed that there are only 1.4 doctors and 9.5 nurses and midwives per 10,000 people.
“This is significantly below the average among low and lower middle income countries of nine doctors and 19 nurses to 10,000 people in East Asia and the Pacific,” it said.
In fact, some primary care buildings only had nurses and midwives as caregivers.
The data also showed that 63 per cent of general practitioners worked at the provincial level while 79 per cent of specialists served at the central level.
Overall, some 76 per cent physician assistants, 82 per cent assistant dentists, primary nurses (98 per cent) and midwives (100 per cent) were found at provincial and district levels.
“Cambodia does not delineate the distribution of its health workforce by urban versus rural settings. Anecdotally, however, it is known that there are staff shortages in remote rural areas,” World Bank said.
In 1980, some 50 doctors served the Kingdom but the ministry presently employs 24,270 health personnel.
However, it said, despite the increase in staff now, Cambodia continues to face a shortage of health professionals, especially in the public sector.