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Protecting children from Covid: a key focus of the Australia-Cambodia partnership

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Australian ambassador Pablo Kang (second left) visits Ratanakkiri province for a Covid-19 vaccine rollout, in April. SUPPLIED

Protecting children from Covid: a key focus of the Australia-Cambodia partnership

This year we reflect on and celebrate 70 years of partnership and friendship between Australia and Cambodia.We also look optimistically to the future.

Australia prides itself on being a trusted, long-term and forward-looking partner that listens to and responds to Cambodian needs.

This includes in Cambodia’s health sector, where we have worked for decades.

This week, Phnom Penh International Airport will host the arrival of the first batch of Australia’s donation of 482,400 paediatric Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine doses for children aged 5-11.

Children play such an important role in the future, so it’s critical they are safe to learn, play and grow.

With this latest donation, Australia is proud to contribute to the protection of children in the 5-11 age group, which is particularly important for their ongoing education in a classroom environment.

This donation builds on Australia’s significant end-to-end Covid-19 support over the past year. Last December, we donated 2.35 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, in addition to our AUD215 million global contribution to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment mechanism, which has so far delivered nearly six million vaccines to Cambodia.

Earlier this year, Australia also donated 133 ultra-low and low temperature vaccine freezers, and other essential cold chain equipment.

We have also complemented our vaccines and cold chain assistance with broader support for the national vaccine rollout. We’ve helped train Cambodian health workers, develop risk communication and e-registration tools, and helped the Cambodian government communicate the benefits of Covid-19 vaccination.

Australia’s global partnership with UNICEF makes this possible. This means safe and effective vaccines are reaching those who need them most.

All of this builds on decades of Australian development assistance to Cambodia’s health sector and our collective goal to strengthen Cambodia’s healthcare system overall.

Cambodia should be proud of its long and tireless Covid-19 vaccination campaign which is now positioning its people to focus on economic recoverywhile maintaining high vaccination and booster rates.

I was pleased to witness the campaign myself in Ratanakkiri province earlier this year and see how Cambodia, with Australia’s help, is providing vaccines to remote villagers, to the elderly, to pregnant women and to people with disabilities to ensure everyone has access to a safer future.

Focusing on children’s boosters against Covid-19 is the next logical step in the campaign.

Especially with Cambodia’s relatively young population, children represent the future – so keeping them healthy and at school is very much in the national interest. This is an objective which Australia is proud to support.

Pablo Kang is Australian ambassador to Cambodia

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